What does it cost to swim with a safe feeling? The beaches off Queensland are visited by many sharks. To keep the swimmers safe protective drumlines and nets have been placed. Last year alone 695 sharks were captured this way.
In total, 113 bull sharks, 287 tiger sharks and 11 great whites were killed in nets and drumlines at 85 beaches between the Gold Coast and Cairns. Six of the great whites were captured off busy Gold Coast surf beaches, including a 3.6m shark in a net at Burleigh Heads and two large sharks at Kirra Beach.
Queensland’s program has long come under fire from environmentalists for the threat the shark equipment poses to other marine life, mainly turtles, dugongs and dolphins.
The most recent figures showed dozens of non-targeted species were killed last year.
There have also been calls for the large mesh nets to be taken down during the humpback whale migration. The department says 48 of the 52 whales caught in Queensland shark nets in the past two decades have been released alive.
More south on Australia’s eastern coast is New South Wales. The northern beaches have seen shark attacks since 2013, with three fatalities. yet only beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle are netted. The NSW government recently introduced a $16 million shark strategy, which, among other things will include the use of drones and the state’s first trial of drumlines between Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.
Unlike in Queensland, where sharks die on the line, the aim of the NSW “smart” drumlines is to tag and release.
Queensland has no plans to scale back or modify its shark control program.