Marine Park Authority explains shark situation
AWARE of the significant community concern surrounding the management of sharks, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has shed light on its strategy going forward.
Following a court decision banning the Queensland Government's Shark Control Program in the marine park, GBRMPA has released a statement explaining how it would work with the government to find a balance between protecting sharks and protecting people.
"The authority understands management of sharks in the marine environment is a sensitive issue," a GBRMPA spokesperson said.
"The authority considers, alongside ecological sustainability, that public safety is a priority and, though interactions between humans and sharks are rare, shark attacks can be extremely traumatic and pose a risk to human life.
"The conditions of the reissued permit do not require complete replacement of 131 drumlines with SMART drumlines immediately."
The authority has welcomed a review of alternative nonlethal approaches for shark control prepared by Cardno for the Queensland Government to meet permit conditions and ensure public safety.
The review found major differences between the north and south of Queensland.
"Options trialled and implemented in other parts of Australia for managing interactions between people and sharks include increasing surveillance using technologies such as drones, SMART drumlines, swimming enclosures and tags that could provide warnings to swimmers and life guards," the spokesperson said.
"SMART drumlines, which provide real-time alerts to signal a shark has been captured, could be part of a broader control program including, for example, localised barrier nets, drone technology and science and research into shark behaviour and mitigation."
The Cardno review showed that low ocean swell conditions in the north were suitable for using SMART drumlines, barrier nets and different deterrent systems.
It noted that SMART drumline trials in New South Wales and Western Australia, where sharks were relocated further offshore where there are no other water users, would be problematic in Queensland.
"That won't work in much of Queensland's northern waters, including the Keppels, where many offshore areas are frequented by swimmers or other water users," the review said.
"While a limited trial of SMART drumlines may be possible in southern areas, the review found that replacing all drumlines with SMART drumlines would be impractical at this time."
The Queensland Government has committed $1 million a year to research and trialling alternatives that may be appropriate for Queensland.
GBRMPA noted that only a small portion of Queensland's Shark Control Program operates within the marine park.
"In the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Shark Control Program covers approximately 24 kilometres, or 1 per cent of the marine park's coastline," they said.
"Queensland can continue to undertake its lethal shark control program at beaches outside of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where the reissued permit does not apply."
In the Capricorn Coast shark control region, the port exclusion zone allows the placement of traditional drumlines for the southern half of Lammermoor Beach.
GBRMPA confirmed they would remain in close contact with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries about the operation of their Shark Control Program.
"The authority has offered to assist .. through discussion about options that protect both human life and the marine environment, consistent with best practice management of the World Heritage Area," they said.