ON Friday, June 22, the Queensland Shark Control Program has commenced catching whales for the 2018 migration season with a 10m humpback whale becoming entangled in a shark net off Coolum Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The program caught as many as 11 migrating humpback whales in 2017.
An eyewitness was reported at Coolum Beach having spotted a white shark circling the injured and distressed whale as it struggled in the net. As a result, ocean users were called from the water by lifesavers. A whale disentanglement team was able to free the animal so it could continue on its migration.
Queensland Apex Harmony Coordinator Jonathan Clark said: “This sad incident goes to demonstrate that any animal trapped and injured in a shark net is ultimately an attractant for sharks, and brings them in in a feeding behaviour. How is this a responsible public safety measure?”
On the previous day, Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner announced further funding of $16 million over four years for the shark control program. Mr Furner also claimed that only one person had lost their life in 56 years at a protected Queensland beach.
“The $16 million would be better directed towards non-lethal technologies as is being done by the Western Australian Labor Government. The core reason we have not seen more fatalities at beaches is not because of shark nets and drum lines. It’s because they are patrolled by lifesavers that are constantly monitoring the water and can respond swiftly to incidents. Active eyes on the water makes a difference,” Mr Clark said.
NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator Allyson Jennings also adds: “This incident is a reminder of what also occurs in NSW with its shark meshing program and more recently, the North Coast Shark Net Trial where our Apex Harmony crew found several animals in the nets left to die or dead, providing a feeding opportunity for passing sharks.
"Despite our crew making contact on numerous occasions to advise of live entangled animals, NSW DPI chose not to come out and remove these animals, condemning them to a slow and torturous death by drowning,” Allyson said.
“Queensland has the opportunity to join its Labor colleagues in Western Australia who are taking a sensible approach to protecting both ocean users and marine life. Queensland Labor went to the last election with the promise of further investigating non-lethal technologies; instead we are seeing the same old lazy non-innovative approach.
"This also flies in the face of the National Labor Party platform which states “In Australian waters and throughout the world’s oceans, Labor will encourage protection for iconic marine species like whales, dugongs, turtles and sharks, and will promote the conservation and research of key bioregional health indicator species.” It’s clear the Palaszczuk Labor Government doesn’t care for the oceans or the safety of ocean users.” said Ms Jennings
“Sea Shepherd calls upon the Palaszczuk Labor Government to adopt effective non-lethal measures for ocean user safety instead of continuing to provide a false sense of safety with ineffective and out-dated shark nets” said Mr Clark.
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