Apex Harmony continues to bring transparency to the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) despite current moves by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to introduce a 20m exclusion zone around their culling equipment – the shark nets and drumlines installed off Queensland’s beaches.
Apex Harmony’s Queensland Coordinator, Jonathan Clark, is currently undertaking a tour of the Queensland coast documenting every net and drumline of the system. Starting in August, crews aboard the small boat, Grey Nurse, visited the 38 drumlines off Cairns beaches which were in all cases located in shallow, murky water where there were few swimmers. Crocodiles and stingers are far greater concerns than sharks in these waters and these issues are dealt with using non-lethal means.
Later in the month, Grey Nurse was taken to the 54 drumlines off Townsville and Magnetic Island Beaches. Confirmation of the problems the QSCP contractors have in maintaining bait on the drumlines was found in the very low instance of bait on the hooks – one day there were only 3 of the 54 hooks with the remnants of bait. Jonathan is now firmly of the view that the drumlines present not only a false sense of safety but that they are merely a placebo. However, they still kill sharks and other animals and in the cruellest of ways.
In Townsville, the Grey Nurse crews found four sharks cruelly hooked and tangled; a small tiger shark (less than 1.5m), a black tip, a 3m+ tawny nurse and another 3m+ tiger. In each instance, the manager of the QSCP was called and the same message given: The contractor’s schedule would not be changed to deal with the situation at the drumlines. So, sharks can be left at times in excess of 48 hours whether small or large, alive or deceased, targeted or not, vulnerable, protected or otherwise.
In Mackay, a broken net was encountered and reported. Despite the report, the net was left broken, swinging and dangerous until the middle of the next day. In Yeppoon, more murky waters with scantily used beaches were encountered. Tannum Sands, near Gladstone, told the same story. Few beach users, murky water and a low percentage of drumline hooks with bait.
Jonathan is at pains to point out that whilst Sea Shepherd highlights the low levels of bait on the hooks, this should not be read as advocacy for more baiting. Baiting hooks every two days over decades would most certainly set up an attractant for sharks in an area – the exact opposite of the stated intent of the QSCP which is “to minimise the threat of shark attack on humans in particular locations.”
Jonathan went on the say that Gladstone presented us with the particular brand of cruelty that is inherent in putting a beach safety program in the hands of fishers. On the Monday, we took Grey Nurse to the 20 drumlines off Woongarra Coast and found a large tiger shark at drumline #19. She was still alive and hanging tangled by the tail. The situation was reported to the QSCP Manager with a specific request to end the cruelty now and to attend to the shark. Again, this was refused.
The Grey Nurse crew attended the next morning to find the shark still in a trussed and tortured state and still alive. Later that morning, the contractor arrived with a Fisheries officer on board. They tied the shark to the back of their boat and towed her backwards for more than an hour to a point about 10km offshore. There they put a powerhead to her head and killed her before taking a knife and removing her liver and other organs to ensure she sank.
Our monitoring of the QSCP continues and through this, our evidence against this inherently cruel and ineffective system is growing. Over the next two months our campaign expects to visit the beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Bribie Island, Rainbow Beach and North Stradbroke Island. Please follow our campaign news in the usual social media channels. If you are Queenslander, please contact your local state member to voice your concern toward the cruelty and pointlessness of the QSCP.
Queensland Coordinator - Apex Harmony Campaign
Sea Shepherd Australia