New improved SMART shark drumlines are rolled out on the Great Barrier Reef


New SMART shark drumlines are rolled out on the Great Barrier Reef in a new trial of non-lethal hooks to stop attacks

  • The Queensland government has allocated funding for smart shark drumlines 
  • The smart shark traps alert workers who relocate rather than kill the sharks 
  • The new drumlines will be deployed in the Great Barrier Reef later this year  

Non-lethal shark hooks will be trialled in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The federal government has funded $5 million towards non-lethal shark protection measures after the Queensland government lost a court decision last year.

The state government has resisted installing non-lethal shark measures after losing the right to use baited hooks to catch and shoot dead 19 shark species in the world’s largest coral reef.

But of the funding announced on Tuesday, $4 million will go towards non-lethal measures including so-called SMART drumlines, which alert authorities when sharks have taken bait on a hook so the animal can be removed and released elsewhere.

The money will also go to rebating councils to install swimmer safety netting, drone surveillance and swimmer education.

Non-lethal shark hooks will be trialled in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (file image) 

The federal government has funded $5 million towards non-lethal shark protection measures after the Queensland government lost a court decision last year (file image of a shark drumline buoy)

The federal government has funded $5 million towards non-lethal shark protection measures after the Queensland government lost a court decision last year (file image of a shark drumline buoy) 

Authorities in the Whitsundays region, rocked by a number of recent shark attacks, will have $1 million to help with shark management.

It is expected the equipment will be installed within weeks.

Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner says the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority amended a permit which took into account workplace health and safety issues.

Mr Furner has previously said handling live sharks and releasing them from drumlines was dangerous for state government workers.

He resisted calls from the state opposition to install the SMART, or Shark-Management-Alert-In-Real Time drumlines, in the marine park.

Mr Furner also released a study which indicated SMART drumlines would not work along the Great Barrier Reef.

A diagram explaining how the smart drumlines to be deployed in Queensland work

A diagram explaining how the smart drumlines to be deployed in Queensland work 

On Tuesday Mr Furner said relocating and releasing the sharks would reduce the immediate risk to swimmers in the area but not entirely eliminate dangers.

The Administrative Appeal Tribunal last year found the lethal component of Queensland’s program does not reduce the risk of an unprovoked shark attack.

There have been several such attacks in the Great Barrier Reef region in the past two years, including the death of Melbourne doctor Daniel Christidis.

The animal rights group which launched the legal action, Humane Society International, on Tuesday welcomed the additional funding and cooperation between the state and federal government.

‘We will be pleased to see an end to 60 years of deliberately and needlessly killing sharks in this precious ecosystem,’ said HSI’s Lawrence Chlebeck.

SMART DRUMLINES

A trial of non-lethal shark risk management measures will be rolled out on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef in coming weeks.

The federal government has committed $5 million to non-lethal shark protection measures in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Area featuring installation non-lethal SMART drumlines.

The Queensland Government was forced to remove over 150 lethal drum lines from the marine park following a court decision last year.

WHAT ARE DRUMLINES?

* They are unmanned baited hooks that target large sharks off popular Queensland swimming beaches.

* Traditionally sharks snared on hooks are left on the line to die or are killed by authorities to keep beachgoers safe.

* The measures are in place along Queensland coast outside of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

* Queensland Government says since the shark control program was implemented in 1962 there has been only one fatal shark attack on a protected beach.

* Last year, the Administrative Appeal Tribunal found the lethal component of Queensland’s program does not reduce the risk of an unprovoked shark attack.

WHAT ARE ‘SMART’ DRUMLINES?

* Shark-Management-Alert-In-Real Time drumlines are basically a traditional drumline with an alert mechanism.

* When a shark takes the bait and puts pressure on the line, workers are sent to remove and release it elsewhere.

* They have been trialled in Northern NSW since 2015.

* In NSW, SMART drumlines are collected daily to avoid sharks dying on unmanned hooks overnight.

* There has been resistance to SMART drumlines in Queensland due to cost and dangers to workers whose job it is to remove the hooked sharks. 

There has been an unprecedented number of shark attacks in the Great Barrier Reef in the last few years prompting the protection measures by the government

There has been an unprecedented number of shark attacks in the Great Barrier Reef in the last few years prompting the protection measures by the government 

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