Sea Shepherd Crew Observes 6 Harmless Animals Caught in Gold Coast Shark Nets

Monday, 07 Jan, 2019

ON THURSDAY, January 3, Sea Shepherd’s Apex Harmony crew observed six harmless animals caught in Gold Coast Shark nets.

These animals were caught in the name of a false sense of safety for Gold Coast tourism. None of these animals bore any threat to humans and all were critical to a healthy ecosystem.

"This is what you get when you put a beach safety program in the hands of fishers…fishing."

The Sea Shepherd crew were out monitoring the 11 shark nets and 35 drumlines off Gold Coast beaches when they came upon the Shark Control Program contractor replacing nets at Surfers Paradise beach, at which point they commenced following and recording their work.

This is the first time in over four years that our Apex Harmony Queensland crews have had the opportunity to directly observe the contractor’s work for an extended period. What we saw was a callous disregard for non-targeted animals caught in the net that ought to have been carefully handled. We observed a total of 6 animals in this one day which is a remarkable and shocking catch – especially when none of these animals posed a threat.

When government ministers attempt to justify the QSCP citing the low numbers of shark bite fatalities at Queensland beaches, they are being deceptive and misleading as they are ignoring the fact that the vast majority of beaches where QSCP gear is deployed never had incidents before deployment. When you compare the very few incidents prior with the very few incidents post deployment, you see that the reason there are very few shark bite incidents in Queensland is NOT because of the QSCP.

The following animals were observed caught in the nets:

  • Kurrawa Beach net: Hammerhead - small (~1m) deceased
  • Burleigh Beach net: 1.8-2m female black tip shark AND one other unknown animal (probably a ray)
  • Currumbin Beach net: 2 cownose rays, alive but discarded overboard by contractor, bloody and injured
  • Bilinga Beach net: Shark alive – likely a dusky whaler – killed on board the contractor’s boat


Currently, Queensland Fisheries is attempting to implement a 20m exclusion zone on all of the Shark Control Program gear.

This move by the Queensland Government has nothing to do with safety or interference and everything to do with reducing transparency. Sea Shepherd is the major group providing transparency of this program to the public by showing an honest account of what goes on. We have been publishing images, videos and accounts of the destruction caused by these nets for over four years now. We have provided clear and honest analysis of data from the QSCP.

The Department of Fisheries does not like this. They provide no oversight of the contractors’ work and this has encouraged illegal activity in some cases. It also makes data gathered by the contractors highly dubious. This is why we are calling for a move of the QSCP from the Department of Fisheries to the Department of Environment and Science where there is much more likelihood of progress in providing real beach safety.

Further information:

On Thursday, 83% of the GC drumlines observed had no bait which reflects Sea Shepherd’s ongoing data that 63% of nearly 1300 observations since 2015 had no bait. 3 of the drumlines opposite Sheraton Mirage which were likely to have been baited an hour previously had no bait. Dolphins were seen in the area.

There has likely been a 78% decline in hammerheads – according to a recent paper by UQ researcher Dr George Roff.

Scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) are listed as endangered by the IUCN Redlist.

Australian cownose rays (Rhinoptera neglecta) are listed as data deficient by the IUCN Redlist.

From 2001-18, GC QSCP gear has caught:

  • 279 scalloped hammerheads
  • 410 cownose rays
  • 138 dolphins
  • 51 whales
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