Shark nets are being removed from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park after a Federal Court decision backed major changes to the Federal Government’s permit allowing Queensland to operate its Shark Control Program.
Signage will be installed at relevant beaches so that swimmers are made aware that the shark control equipment has been removed, with school holidays and the Surf Lifesaving season starting this weekend.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the new restrictions on the program within the park boundaries meant it was not possible to carry out shark control measures legally and safely.
“These changes, forced on Queensland by an animal activist group and supported by the Environment Defenders Office of New South Wales, would turn Queensland’s program from a “catch and remove the risk” program to a “catch and release the risk” program.
“Our shark control contractors and staff are neither trained nor equipped to safely handle live sharks, tow them away from beaches and then release them alive.
“Human life comes first. That’s why I won’t put our staff and contractors in harm’s way by asking them to perform dangerous work without being fully trained and equipped.”
“The safety of Queenslanders and visitors to Queensland is our top priority and I call once again on the Federal Government to urgently revisit its legislation to allow the Shark Control Program to continue in the form that has served Queenslanders so well since 1962.”
This afternoon Mr Furner spoke to Federal Environment Minster Sussan Ley seeking urgent support in the form of updated legislation.
“We agreed that human life was the top priority, and Ms Ley indicated that legislation changes were being looked at,” Mr Furner said.
“I wrote to then Environment Minister Melissa Price back in April seeking Federal Government support to ensure the program could continue in the form that has served Queenslanders and visitors well since 1962,” Mr Furner said.
“I pleased that, at this late hour, the Federal Government is now willing to examine its options for supporting the Shark Control Program.