The State Government is concerned about the LNP's plan to replace drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The State Government is concerned about the LNP's plan to replace drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Sea Shepherd Australia

The shocking number of sharks caught off the Mackay coast

PLANS to implement a catch and release shark program could mean more than 260 sharks could be released into waters off Mackay.  

The State Government believes the LNP's plan could put Mackay swimmers in danger, releasing "dozens of large, dangerous sharks" near Mackay beaches.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said new analysis of Shark Control Program data showed 261 large, dangerous sharks had been caught on Mackay drumlines over the past five years.

"The LNP has backed the Humane Society International's stance that shark control in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park should be conducted with a catch-and-release program," Mr Furner said.

"That program would mean capturing large sharks, towing them offshore and then releasing them live.

"We are talking about tiger sharks, bull whalers and common blacktips, all of which could cause serious damage in a shark attack."

The figures showed there were 25 sharks caught at Blacks Beach, 30 at Bucasia Beach, 19 at Eimeo Beach, 100 at Harbour Beach, 78 at Lamberts Beach and nine at South Lamberts.

Last week the Palaszczuk Government installed 17 extra drumlines between Townsville, Mackay, Capricorn Coast and Gladstone to protect beaches just outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The deployment of additional drumlines outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park followed last month's Federal Court decision that determined all sharks caught within the marine park must now be tagged and released alive within 24 hours.

The State Government removed more than 160 drumlines from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park because that program could not be carried out without serious risk to staff and contractors.

But the LNP embraced the new requirements, urging the rollout of a catch-and-release program as soon as possible.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the LNP had failed to stand up for local swimmers and the tourism industry.

"It beggars belief that the LNP would support this sort of dangerous approach instead of fighting for the shark control program that has enjoyed bipartisan support for more than 50 years," Mrs Gilbert said.

"It's not too late for the LNP to see sense and back our Shark Control Program.

"We have to keep our swimmers safe and we need to protect our $27 billion tourism industry."

Mr Furner said the government was committed to trialling alternatives but didn't believe that SMART drumlines, which had been trialled in other states, were appropriate in the Great Barrier Reef.

"In these trials, sharks can be relocated offshore safely but in much of Queensland's north, releasing sharks offshore is potentially dangerous because many of these areas are important tourism destinations used by swimmers or other water users," Mr Furner said.

"State LNP members need to get on the phone to their Federal colleagues and urge them to pass urgent legislation to allow our shark control program back in to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park."