THE Queensland Government is investing an additional $17.1 million over four years in its Shark Control Program in the 2019-20 budget to ensure even greater swimmer protection and safety at the state’s most popular swimming beaches.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the funding would continue the operation and maintenance of the Shark Control Program, while investing $1 million per year in research on new technologies.
“Part of the extra funding will be spent to support research and trials of new technologies for reducing risk of shark attacks to swimmers and rolling out specific education and awareness programs,” Mr Furner said.
“Queensland’s Shark Control Program has been operating since 1962 and there has only ever been one shark-related fatality at one of these beaches in all that time. That’s an enviable record. The Queensland Government will always put the safety of human lives first.”
However, legal action to permit the on-going use of drumlines to catch sharks off popular Great Barrier Reef swimming spots continues. The Federal Court Appeal in August will hear the Queensland Governments objections to a ban on the practice ordered by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The ban was sought by the Humane Society International backed by lawyers from the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office, which receives NSW State Government funding.
“It is quite bizarre and extraordinary to see NSW taxpayers’ money going towards fighting Queensland’s long-standing, proven Shark Control Program. What do New South Wales taxpayers stand to gain from an outrageous bid to outlaw a protection measure comprehensively ticked-off by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority?
“The dollars would be far better spent on shark protection at all the beaches south of the Tweed that have seen recent attacks by sharks on surfers and swimmers. I understand many people have strong views about shark control. We have listened to those views and have committed $1 million a year to trial alternatives that may be appropriate for Queensland. However, until an effective alternative is found, we are resolved to continue to back-in the Shark Control Program with its combination of shark nets and drum lines at all of Queensland’s most popular beaches.
Mr Furner said part of the additional funding in this Tuesday’s Budget will allow us to advance research into new swimmer safety technology, such as using drones to monitor targeted stretches of coastline.
“Trials of alternatives will be informed by the scientific working group and a review of the effectiveness of other technologies currently being undertaken by Cardno, a leading engineering, environment and design consultancy,“ Mr Furner said. “There will also be continuing swimmer education about the dangers posed by sharks. After last year’s tragic shark attacks at Cid Harbour, we urge everybody to be shark smart and exercise caution when entering the water. The Shark Smart program commenced in early 2019 and this funding will ensure continued education messages are promoted to the community.
“Social media education videos have already been viewed 1 million times and stickers have been circulated with boat registration renewals. We are also allocating $15,000 to Surf Life Saving Queensland to incorporate SharkSmart messaging in to SLSQ’s print material and school and adult education programs over the next year.”
To reduce the risk of a shark attack in Queensland waters, people should follow this advice:
- Don’t swim at dawn or dusk
- Always swim in clear water (not in murky water, busy anchorages, estuary mouths or canals)
- Don’t throw food scraps or fish waste overboard (including in anchorages or where people are swimming)
- 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.