Despite the many weather warnings given to the public, days before the low-pressure system hit the Queensland coast, Fisheries Queensland failed to ensure public safety at local beaches by choosing not to remove drum lines and shark nets before the extreme weather conditions.
This has seen shark nets break free at 12 local beaches and Fisheries Shark Control Program Manager, Jeff Krause now issuing public warnings of shark nets being dislodged from the Gold Coast up to the Shine Coast.
Once these nets or drum lines dislodge from their anchor points, they are an instant hazard to surfers, swimmers and divers in the area, and can also cause injury and death to whales, dolphins and other marine species. Surfers and pro surfers use storm events as opportunities to catch big wave sets, however these surfers are now at risk of entanglement and potential drowning.
Both Fisheries Queensland and New South Wales have dealt with this issue previously, when a 8 year old boy drowned in a shark net in 1992 that had dislodged due to storm conditions at Nobbys Head and a 15 year old boy drowned in 2007 when he became entangled in a shark net at Shoal Bay, near Port Stephens, New South Wales.
As we are now in the Humpback Whale migration season, if current weather events are repeated and Fisheries continues to neglect their responsibilities, then these nets pose significant risk to the migrating whales.
A humpback whale was killed in 2014 off the Gold Coast after becoming entangled and drowning in a shark net. While this did not occur during inclement weather, it still highlights the need for these lethal barriers to be removed.
For Fisheries Queensland to ignore the weather forecast and have 22 shark nets and 145 drum lines posing significant risk to the public, shows a need for change in attitude. Sea Shepherd’s Operation Apex Harmony team have been promoting non-lethal alternatives such as the Eco Shark Barrier, Clever Buoy and other alternatives so that the public can still feel safe in the water while also minimizing potential fatalities of marine wildlife.
Fisheries claim that shark nets are designed to stop sharks from establishing territories, however science has already shown that many shark species are migratory and will travel for 1000's of kilometres, instead of creating territories.
A typical shark net in Queensland is a gill style net, 186 meters long and sits 6 meters deep leaving access around and under the net for sharks to swim beyond the net. Hundreds of animals are entangled and killed every year within the nets, and as shown on numerous occasions, do not stop interactions between sharks and the public in beach areas.
Support the removal of the shark control program in Queensland and New South Wales by following Sea Shepherd's Apex Harmony Campaign, as we fight for non-lethal alternatives. It is 2015, we do not have to choose between public safety and saving marine wildlife. We can do both.
Operation Apex Harmony
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