It's inhumane: Fisherman criticises Qld shark control

PAINFUL DEATH: Bronte Wootton, of Noosa Junction, took this photo on his Go Pro of a shark hooked on the drum line off Castaways Beach.
PAINFUL DEATH: Bronte Wootton, of Noosa Junction, took this photo on his Go Pro of a shark hooked on the drum line off Castaways Beach. Contributed

NOOSA local Bronte Wootton is no stranger to the waters he shares with sharks.

As a keen spear fisherman for the past eight years, the 22-year-old Noosa local is familiar with the shark nets and drum lines that help protect swimmers off our beaches.

But when confronted with three sharks, two bull one tiger, caught on a drum line off Castaways Beach three weeks ago, he thought there had to be a better way.

"I think it's a bit inhumane the way they do it," he said.

"It's slow and painful ...  you think there would be a bit of a better option."

Mr Wootton captured a photo of one of the hooked sharks on his Go Pro which he then posted to his Facebook page.

The image was shared more than 100 times.

"Most people don't know that that's the way it goes," he said.

"I just find it kind of sad the way they go about it and the attitude about it, I think something should be done."

Consisting of a surface buoy anchored to the sea bed, drum lines feature a chain trace and baited hook used to cull a small number of the shark population in an area so there is a more plentiful food source for the other sharks to eat, in turn reducing the incidents of a shark attack.

There are currently 78 drum lines and 11 shark nets off beaches between Bribie Island and Noosa.


Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry shark control program manager Jeff Krause said drum lines and nets had been on the Sunshine Coast since 1962 and were checked every couple of days, weather permitting.

"We employ shark contractors to service the equipment and ... take the shark off the hook," he said.

Mr Krause said people occasionally voiced concerns about the use of drum lines and nets, which could trap other marine life, to the department, but said their statistics showed they were not having an unsustainable impact on the shark population.

"We have equipment on less than 0.5% or 1% ... of the entire Queensland coastline," he said.

"We average between 650 and 700 sharks per year throughout the Queensland coast ... the stats have remained reasonably static for many years now."

Research has been done into alternative options for shark management including electromagnetic barriers and Clever Buoys, a sonar technology used to detect sharks, but Mr Krause set the technology was still being tested and was not ready to replace the current drum lines.

He said recently installed "pingers" on shark nets had resulted in a 30% reduction in the number of dolphins caught and, so far, a successful reduction in the number of whales.

"We also have a 93% success rate in releasing turtles alive," he said.

If you do see an animal trapped in the shark nets, phone the Shark Control Program hotline on 1800806891.

Topics:  editors picks ocean shark control program

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