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Fisheries Minister ignores Scientific Working Group, digs heels in...

Last week, the Queensland Government announced they have no plans to replace shark nets, despite their own Scientific Working Group recommending this over a year ago. This is not where we give up, this is where we fight harder.

With an increasing level of public awareness and a push towards safer, more humane programs, this is the perfect moment for the Government to reconsider the controversial netting & drumline program, but instead they have decided to play into the politics of fear and misinformation around sharks and the efficacy of their outdated program, doubling down on it instead of modernising it.

This flies in the face of all supported evidence, including their own. In 2019 Humane Society International won a court case to end shark culling in the Great Barrier Reef. The pivotal moment of the trial came when the Government’s own expert witness admitted under oath that lethal shark culling programs do not work (eg: their current program), and he would never recommend or advocate them.

In 2017, a federal senate inquiry into shark control programs handed down 20 recommendations to states. The first of these recommendations: replace lethal drumlines immediately, move away from shark nets, and increase funding and support for effective and non-lethal alternatives.

Alternatives do now exist. WA abandoned it's trial of shark culling strategies in 2014 and has developed a non-lethal shark mitigation strategy. NSW removes their nets for whale migration season, and has no lethal drumlines. NSW local councils are determined to remove nets in their local government area, many passing unanimous motions at council meetings to ask the DPI to do this. Queensland taxpayers invest $1 million annually into shark control research and innovation, yet none of these successful alternatives have actually been implemented yet.

And yet despite all this, the Queensland Government refuses to budge. They know nets and drumlines don’t keep people safe, it was admitted under oath. They know it indiscriminately kills dozens of species of marine life, many endangered, and is destroying the coastal ecosystem, the science supports this. They have alternatives, and they have the money to pursue them. Yet still, no action.

So why are we still using ineffective programs designed in the 60s? Why, in this one aspect of Australian life, is proven evidence and human safety not leading the industry? Everything from wearing seatbelts to building codes to the Covid-19 response; these have all been driven by data to keep us safe. Why should our beaches be any different?

It’s time to remind these politicians that they work for us, and not the other way around.

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