Renee Cluff

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Smart drumlines for North Queensland beaches ruled out

Smart drumlines won’t be replacing the drum lines that were removed recently from Tropical North Queensland beaches after a report found they wouldn’t be effective against shark attacks.

The smart drumlines use GPS technology to alert authorities to the presence of a catch so that it can be towed away and released.

They were considered as an option after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled that sharks can no longer be killed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

It was a decision upheld by the Federal Court, which led to the State Government removing more than 160 drumlines last month.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said the State Government-commissioned report found serious issues with using smart drumlines up north.

“Where smart drumlines have been trialed in New South Wales and Western Australia, sharks are moved further offshore where there are no other water users,” he said.

“But that won’t work here, especially in much of Queensland’s northern waters where many offshore areas are frequented by swimmers or other water users.

“This includes major tourism drawcards such as Green Island.”

He said the Government will consider a limited trial of smart drumlines in southern waters, but replacing those on beaches in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park would be impractical and ineffective.

“Now is the time for the LNP to stop drinking the Green Kool-aid and get behind the Shark Control Program,” he said.

“We will continue to examine possible alternatives but this report makes it absolutely clear the Federal Government needs to change course and legislate immediately to allow our long-standing catch-and-remove shark control program back in to the Marine Park.”

One alternative the report did consider appropriate for northern waters was nets.

“In the north waves aren’t as large and the water is not as clear, whereas in the south there is bigger surf and clearer water,” Mr Furner said.

“The review finds that physical barriers may be appropriate for trial in the Great Barrier Reef area due a lack of ocean swell.”

The Queensland Shark Control Program: Review of alternative approaches report was authored by engineering, environment and design consultancy Cardno.