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QLD introduces new law to gag conservation groups

May 29, 2019 — A new Queensland Government law enacted yesterday will prevent independent monitoring of the state's Shark Control program and stop the public from seeing the reality of the state's shark killing scheme, two of the nation's leading conservation groups say.

Humane Society International (HSI) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have hit out at the new move that will hide from view the environmental carnage of the lethal drumlines along the Great Barrier Reef and southern Queensland beaches.

Enforcement of the new law comes as HSI and AMCS have sent a 100,000 signature petition to the Queensland Government to cease the culling of sharks in the Great Barrier Reef and to implement non-lethal alternatives.

"Using the guise of public safety, this move is nothing more than an attempt to stop conservation groups from revealing the death and suffering caused by shark nets and lethal drumlines in Queensland,” said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner with HSI.

"With 60 years of progress in technology and our understanding of shark behaviour since this program began, it's time to pull this Shark Control Program out of the dark ages. Investing in non-lethal alternatives such as drone surveillance, personal shark deterrents, and education can make a massive difference to public safety without threatening populations of important marine species. We know that 100,000 stand behind us, with more signing each day.”

The exclusion zone law is part of a suite of amendments to the state's fisheries bill. HSI and AMCS have been documenting the lethal drumlines within the Great Barrier Reef and shark nets at Gold Coast beaches this past year as part of the national Shark Champions campaign.

"Queensland's Shark Control Program indiscriminately kills marine wildlife, including threatened and endangered species,” said Dr Leonardo Guida, Senior Shark Campaigner with AMCS.

"Hundreds of animals, including turtles and dolphins, die in this outdated program every year. There are better ways to keep bathers safe that don't involve killing animals critical to the balance of marine food-webs – especially when the Great Barrier Reef needs all the help it can get.”

HSI is in the process of ongoing litigation against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) for the approval and operation of shark culling within the waters of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Having won the initial legal challenge to end the culling in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, HSI is now preparing for QDAF's appeal, to be heard this August in the Federal Court of Australia in Brisbane. The Tribunal had found that killing sharks provides no benefit to swimmer safety.

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