More than 170 government drum lines, at 27 separate locations were installed after being granted permission by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2017.
More than 170 government drum lines, at 27 separate locations were installed after being granted permission by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2017.

Court decision stops state’s shark cull on reef

THE State Government can no longer cull sharks in the Great Barrier Reef after today losing an appeal against decision to prohibit the practice.

The Humane Society International earlier this year launched a legal challenge aiming to stop the killing of sharks in the world-heritage listed marine park.

It came after an updated license for the catch and kill program allowed 19 species of sharks to be euthanised if snagged on shark baits.

More than 170 government drum lines, at 27 separate locations were installed after being granted permission by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2017.

The environmental protection group applied to the Queensland Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have the Authority's permission, claiming it was inconsistent with laws designed to protect the reef and is leading to habitat destruction.

They also claimed the detrimental impact the shark culls are having on the reef's ecosystem is not justified because there is no clear science to show the program actually reduces attacks.

The Humane Society won the case, stopping the Queensland Government, which has run a shark control program since 1962, culling sharks in the area.

The program largely used bait and hooks to lure sharks from swimming spots along the state's coast.

In April, the State Government appealed this decision to the Federal Court of Australia, arguing the continued culling of sharks should be allowed.

The court today dismissed their appeal.

At the Great Barrier Reef, those deemed the most dangerous and likely to be involved in "human interactions" - largely tiger sharks - were previously euthanised every few days as the baits are checked.

The Humane Society argued during the original hearing "lethal aspect" of the current baiting project was "out of step" and no other state or territory in Australia uses a lethal program.

The court heard during the hearing there was only one shark fatality in the State in the past seven years, at Cid Harbour last year.

The State Government can apply to the High Court of Australia for special leave to appeal today's decision of the Federal Court of Australia.

Marine campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck, from the Humane Society, said he was "ecstatic" about the win.

"It's a massive victory not only for sharks but marine wildlife in Queensland and ocean-users in all of Australia," he said.

"Drum lines will remain in place but no sharks will be shot and there will no longer be a target list of species."

Mr Chlebeck said the system would required drum lines to be checked daily giving sharks a "better chance of survival".

He said the case had sent policies around the area "out the window" and the decision affirmed the argument "shark culling does not increase swimmer safety".

Mr Chlebeck said the Humane Society would be ready for any further challenges to the High Court but believed it would be a "folly" of the State Government to make a last-ditch bid to have today's decision overturned.

"Sharks will no longer senselessly die for a misguided sense of security," Mr Chlebeck said.



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