The LNP’s plans to spend $15 million on a catch-and-release program for sharks in the Great Barrier Reef will put lives at risk, Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said today.
Mr Furner said the LNP’s commitment was a fraction of what was needed and did not take into account the safety of staff who would have to manage and then release live sharks caught on drumlines.
“Handling sharks is dangerous and I can’t see the sense in releasing a shark near where it was caught,” Mr Furner said.
“How will that protect swimmers?
“It’s not just as simple as pulling a hook out of a shark’s mouth and letting it go. If David Crisafulli thinks that’s a good idea then he can go first!”
Mr Furner said the LNP’s $15m proposal would not come close to covering the ongoing costs to replace all 173 drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef, with estimates that replacing them with so-called smart drumlines could cost up to $100,000 per day.
“Which of the 27 beaches in the Great Barrier Reef that are currently sitting unprotected would the LNP remove from the program in order to fit their $15m budget?” Mr Furner said.
“Would the LNP leave Trinity Beach, Yorkeys Knob or Palm Cove unprotected to pay for its irresponsible, underfunded brainwave? What about Holloways Beach or Clifton?
“Would they randomly pick beaches in our key tourism areas and just cross their fingers hoping for the best?
“Smart drumlines are being trialled in other states, but they are just that, a trial. Our current Shark Control Program has operated for almost 60 years with only a single fatality at a beach protected by the program. “
Drumlines were removed from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park after the Federal Court backed an AAT decision to impose significant new conditions on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s permit allowing the Shark Control Program to operate.
Mr Furner said the Federal Government must act to change the Federal legislation that governs the marine park and ensure swimmer safety by allowing the existing Shark Control Program to operate.
“I’ve written to the Federal minister and the Premier has written to the Prime Minister,” Mr Furner said.
“The LNP should be urging their federal counterparts to act on Queensland’s call for action instead of advocating a catch-and-release program that could put the lives of staff and swimmers at risk.”