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Shark drumlines in World Heritage Great Barrier Reef May Increase By A Third

An application for an increase in the number of drumlines to catch large sharks that could be deployed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Photo Credit: IStockPhoto

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An application for an increase in the number of drumlines to catch large sharks that could be deployed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, 99% of which is World Heritage listed, could see an extra 50 drumlines placed in this unique environment. This translates into an increase of a third in the number of drumlines placed within the World Heritage Area.

Humane Society International (HSI) has learnt that despite the intensification of the shark control program and evident impacts on a World Heritage property, the Queensland Government is not intending to refer the program to the Commonwealth for assessment. Queensland is relying on an exemption for referral in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for projects which pre-date the EPBC Act. However this exemption does not apply where there is an intensification of the project and increasing drumlines by one third is certainly an intensification of the project. HSI has called for the project to be referred.

Biodiversity Program Officer Jessica Harwood said, "It is vital that the Commonwealth assess the environmental impacts of this plan and intervene to protect the vibrant marine life of this World Heritage Area. The exemption from Commonwealth involvement relied upon by Queensland only applies if the shark control measures were not going to intensify – adding an extra 50 drumlines is certainly an intensification in the program. The impacts on the Great Barrier Reef of such a proposal would be great, especially the likely impacts on marine turtles including the endangered loggerhead turtle and on the biodiversity of this World Heritage Area.”

"Between 2001 and 2010 over 400 marine turtles were captured on baited drumlines in Queensland. Of these more than 326 captured were the endangered loggerhead turtle. The Marine Turtle Recovery Team has stated that loggerhead mortality should be reduced to close to zero – this cannot be achieved by adding an additional 50 drumlines. We need to be taking drumlines out of the marine ecosystem to save this species,” Ms. Harwood continued.

"The idea of adding drumlines in such a unique Australian ecosystem and in this day and age, at a time when states like NSW are signalling their intentions to move away from lethal methods of killing sharks, is unacceptable,” Ms. Harwood concluded.