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Queensland's shameful shark culling program challenged in court

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 30 Jan 2019

Greens Healthy Oceans spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, has come out in support of a legal challenge to the Queensland Government’s “archaic and shameful” shark culling program in the Great Barrier Reef, the hearing for which will be held in Brisbane today. 

Humane Society International, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office NSW, is arguing that the shark control program is in conflict with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's responsibility to protect the reef, as the drum lines continue to kill sharks, turtles, rays and other marine life. 

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “Lethal shark measures, like the drum lines currently used by the Queensland Government in the Great Barrier Reef, are indiscriminate killers and weapons of mass destruction to protected marine life. They provide no guarantees of safety to ocean users and are an outdated, last century approach to shark mitigation.

“Our Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Site and it simply wouldn’t exist, as we know it, without sharks. They are vital to a healthy marine ecosystem, yet we continue to cull them in huge numbers. 

“It's incredibly frustrating to see shameful, old-school culling programs still being used when there are viable, non-lethal measures available."

Senator Whish-Wilson chaired a Senate inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures in 2017 that recommended NSW and Queensland phase out shark nets, immediately replace lethal drum lines with SMART drum lines and increase funding and support for the development and implementation of non-lethal mitigation measures.

“That inquiry went all over the country and we heard over and over again from various witnesses that these lethal measures don’t make the oceans safe.

“Given the public outcry over these lethal measures, and the evidence from the inquiry, it shouldn’t have been necessary for an environment group to challenge the Queensland Government in court. They should have acted on their accord.”

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the shark control program is more than 50 years old and has killed more than 85,000 marine animals including sharks, turtles and dolphins.

Senator Waters said, “The program is completely out-of-date and isn’t in line with community expectations for protecting swimmers without harming marine life.

“There are plenty of non-lethal options that should be considered and will do much more for people’s safety, marine life and tourism.”

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