Shark Control Program in Queensland, ye 'aving a laugh aren't ye?

To: "Victorian Cetacean Strandings Network" <>, "Auscetnet" <>
Subject: Shark Control Program in Queensland, ye 'aving a laugh aren't ye?
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 08:46:49 +1000
Dear All,
Just came back from a trip to Queensland. A fantastic environment and coastline marred only by the ridiculous and (frankly) amusing propoganda on every signboard commissioned by the State's Department of Primary Industry. Harsh words, yes. My opinion too, but see for yourself. I won't go into some of the issues concerning the justification of a 40 year tropical forest rotation by the fact that it still 'looks beautiful' , as it does not befit these forums (even my wife Fiona was bemused by this statement and she is not an ecologist).
The following extracts come from the brochure 'Safety at the Beach, Shark Control Program', a publication aimed at justifying the need for shark control devices - shark nets and drumlines (the latter are hooks and bait used to catch and kill sharks and remove them from an area). I regard myself as pretty open-minded so I read the brochure in an effort to learn a bit more about this subject. Here are just two or three sentences to chew over:
"there is no evidence that the Shark Control Program does more than reduce shark numbers in local areas" - is this true? I don't know. The question is, does Queensland DPI know enough to make this statement unequivocally?
"the number of [other] marine animals captured by the Shark Control Program is small and the impacts on their populations is minimal" - Hmmm. Minimal is a rather subjective statement. Even if these measures are not the most serious, it cannot be denied that there has been significant declines in the numbers of species such as Dugong and various turtles and these animals do get tangled in nets. can Queensland DPI government back up this statement with evidence that nets don't have a significant threat?
But this is the chestnut! 
"Although attacks have occurred in Queensland at non-controlled beaches, there has never been a fatal attack where control equipment was in use."
Now let's just think about that for a moment shall we. Attacks have occurred in Queensland at non-controlled beaches. They don't say that attacks occur at controlled beaches, but we can imply that they do by the second half of the sentence. But they say there has never been a FATAL attack in areas where control equipment was in use. Ahhh. So that's all right then. Hang on a minute though, if attacks are happening in both areas, why is it that the presence of nets is reducing the ability of sharks to actually finish people off! I've got it - the only explanation is that in both areas, the sharks are test-biting people, but the presence of nets in controlled areas means that before the sharks get a chance to come back and finish things off....ooops, they get caught in the nets. Think about's the only explanation!
Well, having got that sorted out I now feel a lot safer AND content that the loss of other marine fauna associated with these nets is plainly justified. 
Question: has someone very devious been commissioned to write this to make it appear informative and justified; or have DPI really got no idea at all? I remain open to other points of view backed up by reasonable evidence of course but, either way, this DPI publication does no justice to the campaign to keep using shark nets whatsoever.
Simon Mustoe - Director
AES Applied Ecology Solutions Pty. Ltd.
59 Joan Avenue
Ferntree Gully
Victoria 3156
Telephone 03 9762 2616
International Telephone +61 (0) 3 9762 2616
Mobile 0405 220830
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