Another Aussie Humpback Snared on Queensland’s Pointless Shark Drumlines

Friday, 21 Aug, 2020

Queensland’s Shark Control Program drumlines have caught their second whale in four days at North Stradbroke Island / Minjerribah. This is the sixth whale directly endangered by lethal shark control gear this year.

Eyewitness, Dr Paul Saffigna, Former Associate Professor and Foundation Head of the Graduate School of Environmental Sciences and Engineering Griffith University, and Former Associate Professor, School of Agronomy and Horticulture at The University of Queensland, was standing at key observation points at Point Lookout for much of the whale’s more than three-hour ordeal.

Dr Saffigna said, “I observed the tragedy of a whale thrashing and struggling for life for more than 3 hours. This happened after I observed, the beach lifeguard jet ski operating very close to the whale which was right amongst the 12 drumlines at Main Beach on Minjerribah. That poor whale dragged the gear for several kilometres out to sea and at times stopped completely. I feared that the whale had died as it had gone from thrashing to almost motionless in that time. I am aware that there are submerged rocks in the vicinity that may well have snagged the anchor it was presumably dragging. I am relieved that the whale was released from the drumline, but goodness knows what condition it must be in after such an ordeal.”

Each year up to 30,000 humpback whales migrate along Australia's East Coast. Photo: Helen Robertson

The Marine Animal Rescue Team managed to remove the drumline equipment from the whale at great personal risk in fading light and difficult sea conditions.

While shark nets have been questioned by large numbers of the Queensland public, this whale capture, the second in four days on a drumline, also brings into question these lethal drumline devices. It is unfortunate that the Queensland Government continues to avoid actual action on this.”

This Government continues to resist legal precedent, government inquiries, scientific reports and data, as well as public opinion on this matter. It does so at its own peril, the peril of the whales and the peril of the tourism operators who would benefit from a clean green and ethical image of what Queensland has to offer. Every single whale entanglement puts in detriment our whale watching, snorkelling and diving industries as well as the members of the Marine Animal Rescue Teams who put their lives on the line during these rescues.

The Queensland Government has a responsibility enacted in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and their own legislation to protect these iconic marine creatures. It is about time, the Queensland Government takes this responsibility seriously by replacing the lethal systems of the Queensland Shark Control Program with effective non-lethal alternatives such as drones in the hands of beach safety experts, a comprehensive education program and barriers at key locations in the north of the state.

These whales need protection.

Tell the Queensland Fisheries Minister that we want the lethal systems of the Queensland Shark Control Program replaced with effective non-lethal alternatives. 

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