Male Sea LionThis cormorant was found deceased in the shark net at Marcoola Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland on November 16 (Photo: Rebecca Griffiths/Sea Shepherd).

To some this may be “just a bird”. But this bird, a cormorant found deceased in a shark net at Marcoola Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland in November, epitomises everything that is wrong with the Queensland Government's Shark Control Program.

This bird suffered. Its last moments would have been a terrifying and desperate struggle for life. This bird should have been able to feed and exist in its own environment without human imposed threat. Yet, it died needlessly in a program that time and again has killed so many animals in the same cruel way.

This bird highlights how these nets do not discriminate: no marine animals are safe where these nets are. They have died for no good reason because these nets do not offer any real protection to ocean users from the sharks that they are meant to keep away. Sharks can and do swim under and around them - frequently. The nets must be removed and this cruelty to marine life must be stopped.

Male Sea LionWATCH & SHARE - Operation Apex Harmony: Just A Bird? (Video & Photo Credit: Rebecca Griffiths/Sea Shepherd).

Completion of a Goal

This week saw the completion of a major goal in Apex Harmony Queensland. In August, our Queensland Coordinator set out for Cairns to commence the documentation of every shark net and drumline in the Queensland Shark Control Program – a journey that has covered thousands of kilometres on the road and brought the number of QSCP appliances inspected into the thousands.

There were more than 30 missions in Grey Nurse and about 150 hours on the water. In excess of 55 volunteers have been directly involved. Many kindnesses were extended in many towns along the Queensland coast.

With the documentation of the 18 drumlines at Bribie Island’s Woorim Beach this weekend just gone, Apex Harmony has now observed every active part of the system. We now have data that shows clearly a number of issues with the system – one of those being that more often than not there isn’t even any bait on those drumlines – around about 65% of our observations were of empty hooks.

Whilst this can be seen as a better thing for the marine animals impacted by the lethal methodology employed by the Queensland Government, it demonstrates one of the absurdities of the system. And it still kills many sharks and other marine animals.

Shark Control Program Contractors were observed going to extraordinary lengths to hide their activities from public scrutiny. Procedures and policies of the QSCP have been exposed – 19 species of shark are targeted and ALL individuals of these species are killed. They are left to die on the lines and in the nets even when reported.

Non-target species are also left on the lines as contractors are not sent to release animals when they are reported. Their schedule of checking the gear, on average every second day is not adjusted on the basis of reports of animals on the drumlines.

There is much work left to be done including compilation of data, production of video stories and hopefully the production of a documentary. Much follow-up work is being done to bring together a stakeholder group to increase political pressure for change. Watch this space for more progress in the new year.

Our underwater camera 

The Apex Harmony team’s underwater camera suffered irreparable damage whilst on campaign last week. We are calling on the amazing generosity of our supporters to help us replace it: https://bit.ly/2Pe2toL

It was a Sony Nex-6 with a E 4.5-6.3/55-210 OSS lens, and as we have the underwater housing and some other lenses, we would be very happy with a donation of the same model of camera and lens.

A more recent model such as an Olympus Tough and housing would also be a wonderful replacement.

We are also approaching end of life of our early model GoPros and would love to be able to move to GoPro 6 or 7 for underwater videos and GoPro Fusion for recording our work from the boat.

A robust underwater camera is an essential tool needed to document the devastating impact shark nets and drum lines have on our precious marine life.

To donate equipment please contact us at australia@seashepherd.org.au or phone 1300 623 267 or donate online here: https://bit.ly/2Pe2toL

Thank-you from everyone here at Sea Shepherd and Operation Apex Harmony.

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