The numbers are in: sharks continue to die on drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Wednesday, 10 Mar, 2021

New data analysed by Sea Shepherd reveals almost 80% of all sharks snagged on drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have been killed over twelve months.

“While we wait for the Queensland Government to take action on their promised changes, they risk killing hundreds of sharks and other marine life important to the Great Barrier Reef. If this is meant to be a court-ordered tag-and-release program, why have almost 80 per cent of the sharks caught died on these lethal hooks?”

- Apex Harmony Campaign Coordinator, Jonathan Clark

The death-toll comes after a Queensland court ordered the state government to amend the Shark Control Program in North Queensland so that it “avoids, to the greatest extent possible, the lethal take of species”.

The reforms, which include a SMART drumline trial still has not been implemented a year later. Sea Shepherd argues that the tag-and-release program to replace the former kill-order also has not been properly implemented.

The data reveals 78% of all sharks in the marine park have been killed by baited outdated drumlines since February 2020.

Of the three targeted shark species, bull sharks had the highest fatality rate, with almost 94% of individuals dying.

Sea Shepherd spokesperson Jonathan Clark says the Palaszczuk Government has been too slow to implement and manage the court-ordered reforms.

Over 130 sharks have been killed on the government’s baited drumline program in the Great Barrier Marine Park since the reforms were agreed upon (137 killed of 176 caught since February 2020).

Sea Shepherd believes the Government has an obligation to abide by the court order. “If the state government is committed to swimmer safety and protection of the marine environment, they must respect and implement the legally and scientifically-backed improvements. It is in the public interest that the State Government disclose and explain why they have not committed to court-ordered reforms of a program so important to human and marine life safety" - Sea Shepherd's Apex Harmony Campaign Coordinator, Jonathan Clark. 

“Blood of marine life is on their hands. This government is again risking missing another opportunity for positive change that could well be a win-win for human safety and marine life protection."

- Apex Harmony Campaign Coordinator, Jonathan Clark

The reforms also required the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to check drumlines 260-days per year within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, up from 182-days. DAF contractors hang the empty hooks under the drumline buoys on the other 105 days per year.

The data comes as the State Government incentivised Queenslanders to travel to Far North Queensland with Travel Vouchers. Sea Shepherd is urging the Government to implement the changes immediately, and consider further non-lethal programs (like drones, shark barriers and educational materials) for the protection of return travellers. 


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