Shocking new imagery of sharks hooked on Queensland Government drum lines, left to slowly die

March 18, 2019 – Humane Society International (HSI) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today release graphic new footage and photographs of the true cost of Queensland’s Shark Control Program in the Great Barrier Reef.

The images were obtained this month at lethal drumlines set off the coast of Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Pictured are two ensnared tiger sharks and a bull shark, hooked and left to slowly die. Enough is enough, and HSI and AMCS call for the immediate removal of the lethal drumlines in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

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Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at Humane Society International, said: “Culling sharks is cruel and illogical, and we are frustrated that it is still happening in the Great Barrier Reef. These images show the intense suffering inflicted on marine animals by this outdated practice. Not only does the Queensland Government insist on slaughtering sharks, but it has recently passed legislation making it illegal to document the horror. The public has a right to see true cost of its Shark Control Program.”

The Queensland Government’s Fisheries Amendment Bill 2018 outlaws being within 20 metres of shark control equipment on the grounds of “public safety” with fines of up to $26,110. This legislation will come into effect in a matter of weeks.

Dr Leonardo Guida, Senior Shark Campaigner at Australian Marine Conservation Society, said: “Tiger sharks are the most frequently caught shark in the Queensland Shark Control Program, and their numbers have dropped by up to three quarters in Queensland waters1. Only last week the first official Australian Shark Report Card was released and that told us that tiger shark numbers will keep dropping unless we make major improvements to the way they are managed. If not, they could soon vanish entirely from Queensland waters. The Government should not be sanctioning culling of a species in such perilous decline.”

According to QLD Department of Fisheries statistics, nearly 9,000 tiger sharks have been caught in the Queensland Shark Control Program since 19852.

Humane Society International is currently engaged in legal action against the QLD Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for shark culling on lethal drumlines within the World Heritage-listed reef. The case concluded in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in February and the Tribunal’s decision will be made in the coming months.

In the case evidence was heard that if sharks were no longer killed in the Queensland Shark Control Program it would make no difference to the risk of a shark bite.

1 – Roff et al. (2018) “Decline of coastal apex shark populations over the past half century” Communications Biology, Vol. 1, Article number: 223  https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-018-0233-1

2- Shark control program: Sharks caught by type, Queensland, 1985–86 to 2017–18 https://data.qld.gov.au/dataset/shark-control-program-caught-type/resource/27e18943-f688-4ca0-ba4f-423f8a84b518