New call for whale season shark net ban
SUNSHINE Coast environmentalists have attacked the State Government's decision to increase its shark control budget, and called for the immediate removal of nets and drum lines for at least the duration of the whale migration season.
The Queensland Budget contained a $17.5 million boost to shark-control funding, of which only $4 million would be spent on research into new technologies over the next four years.
The budget move comes ahead of the government's August Federal Court appeal hearing against an Administrative Tribunal decision in April which imposed a series of heavy restrictions on its use of drum lines and nets in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
A stay subsequently led to the drum lines being reinstated, pending the appeal.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council liaison officer Narelle McCarthy said the science existed to show current methods did not increase swimmer safety.
She said all they gave was a false sense of security that came at the cost of unacceptable level of marine species by-catch including vulnerable and endangered shark species.
This week up to 60 bull sharks were spotted off Lighthouse Beach in Ballina coinciding with the annual mullet run.
Nets installed in 2018 were subsequently removed because of fears they would impact on whales moving along the east coast.
A shark-spotting helicopter deployed along with drones on northern NSW beaches raised the alarm with several surfers causing anger when they failed to leave the water.
It was part of a five-year $16 million trial program implemented following fatal interactions at Ballina and Byron Bay.
Australian charity Humane Society International, which brought on the initial Administration Tribunal hearing, has accused the Queensland Government of "clutching at straws" after that court had determined the shark control program made no difference to swimmer safety.
Its head of campaigns Nicola Beynon said even the government's own expert witnesses had admitted so in court.
Ms McCarthy said environmentalists were encouraged by the State Government's allocation of $4 million for research.
But she added a combination of drones, education and other alternatives would be at least as equally effective as nets and drum lines without cost to the marine environment.