The Queensland state government in Australia will be forced to end their shark culling program after a Federal Court banned the practice in protected areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
Brought forward by animal welfare group Humane Society International, Marine Campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck said on Thursday that "the science is crystal clear, killing sharks does not improve swimmer safety".
Originally put before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in April, Chlebeck explained that Wednesday's decision to uphold the ruling provides an opportunity for Queensland to "step up and innovate".
"It's simply not true that Queensland must abandon shark control altogether, just ineffective lethal shark control," he said.
"It's time for the Queensland government to invest in more effective non-lethal shark control and abandon efforts to continue killing sharks," he added.
"The ruling from the AAT provides a very considered pathway to amend the Shark Control Program which will improve swimmer safety and protect the precious Great Barrier Reef marine ecosystem in which sharks play such an important role," the marine campaigner stated. As a result of the order, 173 baited drum lines at 27 beaches between Cairns in the north and Gladstone in the south, will be taken out of the water.
The ruling has invited the ire of the state government, who fear that an increase in shark attacks could decimate the highly lucrative tourism industry.
"These changes, forced on Queensland by an animal activist group and supported by the Environment Defenders Office of New South Wales, would turn Queensland's program from a 'catch and remove the risk' program to a 'catch and release the risk' program," Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said.
"Our shark control contractors and staff are neither trained nor equipped to safely handle live sharks, tow them away from beaches and then release them alive...Human life comes first. That's why I won't put our staff and contractors in harm's way by asking them to perform dangerous work without being fully trained and equipped," Furner added.
"The safety of Queenslanders and visitors to Queensland is our top priority and I call once again on the federal government to urgently revisit its legislation to allow the Shark Control Program to continue in the form that has served Queenslanders so well since 1962," he said.
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