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Modern shark control program would cost less to run than QLD's current lethal program

Thursday, Oct 08, 2020

A fully costed plan to modernise the Queensland Government’s 'Shark Control Program' demonstrates a program covering beaches from Cairns to the Gold Coast using modern drones and barriers including Eco-Shark barriers and Shark Safe Barriers would cost less than the current program in operational expenditure.

In 2020, we don’t have to choose between keeping our loved ones safe or precious marine life. We can do both with modern day non-lethal and effective shark mitigation solutions. We encourage the Queensland Government to stand on the right side of history, to be a world leader in shark mitigation and embrace the real solutions available today and leave the current lethal ineffective methods where they belong; in the dark ages.

A victim of Queensland's Shark Control Program

Working together, Sea Shepherd, AMCS, HSI Australia and Envoy have written a proposal to demonstrate the cost efficiency of proven shark bite mitigation technologies, in the hopes that the Queensland Government will urgently modernise the current Queensland Shark Control Program.

For a capital outlay of $33.4M and operational expenses of $4.2M, this very generous proposal represents a smaller financial commitment than the current program of lethal shark nets and drumlines. This investment in modern technologies has benefits that will be ongoing for many years. We can stop the unnecessary culling of marine life and focus on making our beaches places that people can enjoy with increased confidence that they are safer and that the negative impacts on marine life will be almost zero.

Our Modernisation Proposal and Cost Estimate for the Queensland Shark Control Program takes account of the government’s own commissioned reporting and follows recommendations ensuring every beach currently covered, will be covered by new technology including drones flown by properly trained and supervised pilots, Eco-Shark Barriers in the calmer water of the north of our state, and some Shark Safe Barriers in combination with drone surveillance in the south.

Education, oversight and encouragement of personal protection devices are also important parts of the proposal and we urge governments to embrace this part of the package as well.

Collaboration between organisations and subsequent acceptance of this plan by interested parties is testament to the work done to ensure its efficacy on a range of points. This plan is one for increased beach safety, it provides opportunity for employment in a post-COVID recovery and for a positive tourism message.

Modern, non-lethal shark bite mitigation technologies:

Eco Shark Barriers form a barrier from the surface to the floor of the ocean and can be extended from a headland or all the way back to the beach. Image: Envoy
Drones in the hands of beach safety experts can be a very important tool assisting lifesavers to monitor and spot large sharks. Image: Envoy
Drone trials are currently being trialled at five beaches in Southern Queensland. Image: Envoy

"After years of documenting the dreadful harm caused to Queensland’s iconic marine fauna, we see that the time to change has passed. Queensland needs to catch up and indeed has the opportunity to leap ahead in embracing technology to provide shark mitigation that carries the other benefit of making our beaches safer places."

- Apex Harmony Campaign Coordinator, Jonathan Clark
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