Drum lines returning to Reef
Shark drum lines are making a return to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
A Federal Court ruling in 2019 stopped Queensland Fisheries staff from automatically killing sharks caught on large hooks suspended from the drum lines.
The court said staff have to attempt to either release or relocate them where possible.
At the time, the Queensland Government chose to remove the drum lines entirely, fisheries staff would be put at risk by attempting to release the sharks.
Now, Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furne says the Federal Government has changed the State Government's permit, and will now allow fisheries staff and contractors to decide whether a shark is released or killed.
The state has struck a deal with the Commonwealth that will see $4 million go towards ‘SMART’ drum line trials, a drone surveillance trial in the Whitsundays, and rebates to councils for installing safety netting.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the ‘SMART’ drum lines alert fisheries staff when something became caught in the line.
“Critically, it's inspected by fisheries, and they need to be appropriately trained so they can inspect the lines, tag and release if required,” Ms Ley said.
They also have the option to euthanise the sharks.
The Humane Society launched the challenge of the Queensland Government’s previous culling practice.
Humane Society marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck welcomed the new arrangements.
“We are happy that the Queensland shark control program in the barrier reef is moving to a non-lethal program,” Mr Chlebeck said.
“We're going to keep close tabs on it … we expect Queensland fisheries to release statistics on how many sharks are caught, and what their condition was upon release.
“If any euthanising does occur, we hope to be able to have access to that information as well, so we can closely monitor it.”
Captured sharks must now be assessed by fisheries staff and – if they are deemed healthy enough - released at the site of capture.
However, tiger, bull and white sharks must be tagged and moved elsewhere.