Quirky protest against ‘indiscriminate killer’


WITH surfboards in hand, environmental activists are pleading with the government to remove shark nets off the Queensland coast.

More than 50 surfboards donated by the Gold Coast community and surf shops were arranged to spell the words "Nets Out Now" on Burleigh Heads beach this morning.

After three humpback whales became entangled in nets off the Gold Coast in just three days, Coast marine experts and marine conversation lobby groups are appealing to the state government to remove shark control nets and replace them with SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drumlines.

Gold Coast marine expert and SeaWorld's former director of marine science Trevor Long said SMART drumlines would be the "most sensible decision".

"I have been campaigning for SMART drumlines for the last 25 years. I did my first whale rescue in 1974 and I have done hundreds since. Shark nets are indiscriminate killers and hazardous for marine life.

"Marine life, like dolphins and turtles, can certainly get caught in drumlines but they can get to the surface to breathe and don't die."


More than 50 surfboards spelling out NETS OUT NOW in Burleigh. Photo: Supplied.
More than 50 surfboards spelling out NETS OUT NOW in Burleigh. Photo: Supplied.


Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) scientist Dr Leonardo Guida, who participated in the event at Burleigh Heads beach this morning, also backed the idea. Dr Guida said while human safety was paramount he was advocating for effective, non-lethal alternative shark mitigation strategies like drones, SMART drumlines and better education to replace shark nets.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said earlier this week that he "recently had a briefing from my department … in terms of looking at replacing those nets with shark drum lines".

Mr Furner said announcements regarding future arrangements would be made soon but emphasised human lives mattered in those areas where shark control programs exist.

The Bulletin understands if drumlines were used they wouldn't be SMART drumlines.

They would be monitored by officers like the rest of the drumlines within Queensland's shark control program.

"We'll address the science behind the briefing I received from the department about looking at the value of replacing shark nets with drumlines," Mr Furner said this week.



Trevor Long. Picture: Adam Head.
Trevor Long. Picture: Adam Head.



Shadow Tourism and Environment spokesman David Crisafulli said if the government removed nets, he would encourage the adoption of SMART drum line technology.

Gold Coast lifesaving services co-ordinator Nathan Fife also said he would support the move, but warned beachgoers should not swim at dusk.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said any changes couldn't lower important safety protections or diminish the effectiveness of the shark control program.

"Last year, the LNP led the way on a modern shark control program with more drumlines, including SMART drumlines and aerial surveillance using drones," Ms Frecklington said. 

The State Government was forced to remove 160 drumlines from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last year after the Federal Court upheld a ruling that essentially required Queensland to abide by a catch-and-release program.

The drumlines have since been put back after the federal and state governments agreed on a plan to ensure human safety, announcing a $5 million program this year.

A total of 24 beaches across the Coast already have shark control equipment installed, including netting and drum lines.

Originally published as Quirky protest against 'indiscriminate killer'

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