Friday 07 February 2020

Queensland Government agrees to use SMART drumlines on the Reef


The Queensland Government has announced it will now comply with an Administrative Appeals Tribunal(AAT) ruling made last year that it must use only SMART drumlines for its shark control program within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) [see News Article, 17 Novenber 2019]
 
The AAT decision was the result of legal action brought by the Humane Society International.
 
The Queensland Government appealed the AAT decision but the Federal Court subsequently upheld it.The government’s response was to immediately remove its standard drumlines from the GBRMP and redeploy them in waters under Queensland jurisdiction, increasing the number in Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and the Capricorn Coast, with Queensland Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furnerclaiming that a transition from standard drumlines to SMART drumlines was ‘unworkable’.
 
In October, Minister Furner stated that an independent report commissioned by the government ‘found that so-called SMART drumlines and a catch-and-release shark control program would be impractical and ineffective in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park’.
 
Now, just four months later, it appears that SMART drumlines are considered workable, practical and effective after all, following $5 million in financial assistance from the Australian Government.
 
The rollout of compliant drumlines in the GBRMP will occur ‘as quickly as possible’, commencing later this month. Fisheries staff and contractors will receive specialist training in safe release techniques and will be able to exercise discretion as to whether a shark can be released safely.
 
Funding will be provided for SMART drumline trials; rebates to councils to install swimmer safety netting; a drone shark surveillance program and increased swimmer education.
 
The quicker response times enabled by SMART drumlines will increase likelihood of survival for sharks, as well as other species that can be captured by the equipment such as turtles and dolphins, all of which are vital to the health of the Reef.
 
There are some 383 drumlines deployed at 69 Queensland beaches. It is hoped that the Queensland Government’s renewed position on SMART drumlines will lead to a transition to this new technology throughout Queensland waters.


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