Capricornia’s shark control program officially restored

VISITORS too fearful to swim at nine of Capricornia's beaches can take confidence knowing that Queensland's highly successful shark control program was resuming today.

47 shark drumlines are back in operation at local beaches within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park including Emu Park, Fisherman's Beach, Tanby Point, Mulambin Beach, Kemp Beach, Lammermoor Beach, Cooee Bay, Yeppoon, and Farnborough Beach.

Since a court ruling forced the removal of the region's drumlines on the eve of the September school holidays, locals have waited anxiously for a resolution to the protracted negotiations and a political blame game between the State and Federal Government.

LOCAL DRUMLINES: Statistics from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provide insight into the use of drumlines along the Capricorn Coast.
LOCAL DRUMLINES: Statistics from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provide insight into the use of drumlines along the Capricorn Coast.

The solution arrived at the start of February in the form of a $5 million federal commitment to help the Queensland Government reinstall standard shark drumlines, invest in modern technologies to mitigate the risk of shark attacks, and transition to a shark control program consistent with the requirements of the courts.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said this decision is a major win for local swimmers, tourists, the tourism industry and the wellbeing of the workers who inspect the drumlines.

"Like many Central Queenslanders, I was stunned by the implications of the AAT and Federal Court decision to order these drumlines out," Ms Lauga said.

"The return of all 47 drumlines to Central Queensland beaches within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a solid victory for commonsense and safety."

Minister for Fisheries Mark Furner said restoring the program was made possible after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) issued an amended permit that took into account workplace health and safety issues.

DRUMLINE STATISTICS: Shark Control Program shark catch numbers by species for Capricorn Coast in 2017.
DRUMLINE STATISTICS: Shark Control Program shark catch numbers by species for Capricorn Coast in 2017.

"Our preference has always been to continue the proven Shark Control Program in the Reef, but this is a federal park with federal laws and Queensland must comply with the permit," Mr Furner said.

"We wanted to put our drumlines back in and that is exactly what we are doing, with extra training and new procedures ensuring our contractors can safely comply with the new requirements."

He said contractors would check drumlines regularly and tag, relocate and release tiger, bull and white sharks alive when it was possible and safe for them to do so.

"If it is unsafe for the contractor, or if there are any animal welfare concerns, sharks will be euthanised," he said.

TECHNOLOGY ROLLOUT: SMARK drumlines are expected to appear along the Queensalnd coastline as the technology is embraced.
TECHNOLOGY ROLLOUT: SMARK drumlines are expected to appear along the Queensalnd coastline as the technology is embraced.

Mr Furner said relocating and releasing sharks would reduce the immediate risk to swimmers at that location but would not remove the risk entirely.

"That's why we continue to encourage everyone to be SharkSmart and stay aware of what is happening around you every time you are in the water," he said.

"Our approach will help ensure swimmer safety in the short term while moving in the longer term to nonlethal approaches, based on the best available science and trials."

Since 1962, the Queensland shark control program has operated with only one death at beaches protected by shark drumlines.

120 drumlines will be reinstated across 27 CQ, NQ and FNQ beaches bringing total drumlines to 203 - the same number in place prior to the Federal Court decision.

WARNING: This shark warning sign which was photographed at Lammermoor Beach urging swimmers to be careful.
WARNING: This shark warning sign which was photographed at Lammermoor Beach urging swimmers to be careful.

People are reminded to Be SharkSmart:

• Don't swim at dawn or dusk.

• Always swim in clear water (not in murky water, anchorages, estuary mouths or canals).

• Don't throw food scraps or fish waste overboard.

• Don't swim where fish are being cleaned.

• Swim, surf, snorkel or dive with a buddy.

• Follow local signage and swim between the flags at patrolled beaches.

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