The Queensland Government has removed all Shark Control Program equipment from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, withdrawing protection from 27 beaches.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the State Government was forced to act after the Federal Court dismissed an appeal against new permit conditions forced on the Shark Control Program under Federal legislation.
“The new conditions under Federal law would turn the Shark Control program from a ‘catch and remove’ program to a ‘catch and release’ program,” Mr Furner said.
“Our contractors and staff are neither trained nor equipped to handle live sharks, tow them away from where they are caught and then to release them alive.
“We’re talking about sharks here, not whiting. You can’t just kiss them on the nose and throw them back.”
Mr Furner has written again to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley strongly urging her to move quickly to change Federal laws to allow the return of drum lines to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“There is no time to waste here. We need to get this equipment back in the water as soon as possible,” Mr Furner said.
Mr Furner criticized comments from some LNP politicians suggesting that the State Government ignore the court’s ruling and leave the existing equipment in place.
“I was stunned that elected LNP members would suggest the Queensland Government should operate in breach of the law,” Mr Furner said.
“That speaks volumes about their lack of respect for the law.
“This can be fixed quickly and legally by the Federal Government changing its laws and allowing our Shark Control Program back in to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“As a grandfather of small children and as a former lifesaver myself, there is nothing more important to me that keeping people as safe as possible in our waters, especially with the school holidays just starting.”