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Around 80% of Sharks Die in 'Non-Lethal' Control Programme in Great Barrier Reef, Charity Reveals

CC0 / / Sharks
Sharks - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.03.2021
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A year after the court ordered Queensland authorities in Australia to end the culling of sharks in the Great Barrier Reef and implement nonlethal shark control measures, the death rates of the species still remain high, the Humane Society International (HSI) reported on Monday.

In 2019, the HSI won a court victory at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The court ordered the Queensland government to end culling programs and switch to nonlethal safety measures, including checking baited drumlines "preferably every 24 hours" to quickly free hooked sharks and installing SMART drumlines, starting February 2020.

"Analysing publicly available catch data from February to December 2020, HSI has found that less tiger sharks are being killed, but mortality rates for smaller sharks remain high, with 137 out of 178 sharks caught, still dying in the 'non-lethal' programme", the charity said.

The situation with the endangered tiger sharks also remains critical despite some progress.

"Where once all tiger sharks found alive on the lines were shot and killed, those found alive are now being tagged and relocated offshore. Nevertheless, approximately 50% of tiger sharks hooked are still dying", Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with HSI, said.

Shark Glows in Bioluminescent Tasmanian Waters - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.11.2020
Shark Glows in Bioluminescent Tasmanian Waters
The issue of high shark mortality rates can be resolved by checking the drumlines more frequently, thus releasing more hooked animals and increasing their chances of survival, gear modifications, drone monitoring and implementing modern non-lethal technologies, the marine biologist noted.

Currently shark nets and drumlines are installed to protect Australia's beaches from sharks and minimize interactions between humans and marine predators. Several states have also been implementing culling programs designed to keep sharks away from the coast.

The measures have resulted in a massive death toll of various species of sharks and other non-target sea animals in the Reef. According to the HSI data, the population of tiger sharks in the Great Barrier Reef was reduced by 74% in the past five decades, driving them to near extinction.

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