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How we minimise environmental impacts

Shark nets and drumlines are designed to catch target sharks but sometimes other marine animals are caught. We are committed to minimising impacts of nets and drumlines on other marine animals.

Conserving other marine life

We continually review our operational processes and use the latest research and technology to minimise the impact of shark nets and drumlines on non-target sharks and other marine animals.

We aim to minimise impact on other marine life by:

  • using shark control contractors to regularly check nets and drumlines for captured animals, and releasing non-target shark species and other animals alive whenever possible
  • using drumlines instead of nets where possible, as marine mammals are less likely to be entangled in drumlines
  • using electronic warning devices (pingers) to deter whales and dolphins from swimming near nets and drumlines
  • using alternative baits or apparatus configurations to reduce the incidences of dolphins and turtles being caught on drumlines or in nets
  • conducting a comparative trial of circle hooks and J hooks to assess the effect on catches of target sharks, non-target sharks and other marine animals.

Responding to entangled animals

Whales stranded or entangled in fishing equipment

To report a stranded whale or a whale entangled in fishing equipment (not including shark nets or drumlines), call 1300 130 372.

The Department of Environment and Science will respond to your reports of:

  • whales strandings—when whales wash up on beaches, also known as ‘beaching’
  • whales entangled in fishing equipment (other than shark nets or drumlines).

Animals entangled in shark nets or drumlines

To report marine animals including whales entangled in shark nets or drumlines, call the shark control program hotline 1800 806 891.

We are responsible for responding to animals entangled in shark control program nets or drumlines. We respond as quickly as possible if you report an entangled whale in a shark net or drumline, depending on weather (e.g. wind) and ocean conditions.

During the annual humpback whale migration season from May to September, the chance of humpback whales becoming entangled in shark nets increases. More than 30,000 humpback whales migrate along the Queensland coastline each year and, on average, fewer than 6 become entangled in nets or drumlines.

Fisheries Queensland marine animal release teams (MART) are located on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Mackay. MART consist of staff from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol. MART members are highly trained and their equipment is specifically designed for releasing marine animals from nets and drumlines. We ask other water users to give MART the time and space to do their work to give entangled animals the best chance of being released quickly and safely.

Shark Control equipment exclusion zone

The Fisheries Act 1994 establishes an exclusion zone of 20 metres around shark control equipment. It is an offence for you to be in the shark control equipment exclusion zone unless authorised and penalties may apply. The offence does not apply to boats transiting directly through the exclusion zone without stopping.

What we do when you call us to report an entangled animal

We follow these steps when you call us on the shark control hotline.

    • We record details of the suspected entangled animal (including date, time, location and description of animal).
    • We verify the report by checking our network of coastal cameras which monitor nets and drumlines, speaking with lifeguards and life savers on the beach or calling our network of volunteer whale observers who view the nets and drumlines from their high-rise apartments.
    • If our shark control contractor is on the water at the time, we call on them to check the net or drumline where you reported the entangled animal.
    • The safety of people comes first. Our crews do not launch into the water if there is inclement weather, impending darkness, or another issue which may put their safety at risk.
    • The marine animal release team (MART) and/or shark control contractor launches a boat to travel out to the entangled animal. Sea World may also assist on the Gold Coast.
    • Our teams draw on their training and use special equipment from on-board boats to release entangled animals from nets or drumlines.
    • The behaviour of humpback whales can be unpredictable; therefore it is unsafe for our teams to enter the water near such a large animal.
    • Whale releases can take some time. We ask other water users to give our teams the time and space to do their work, to give the animal the best chance of being released quickly and safely.
    • MART, the shark control contractor and/or Sea World removes the entangled equipment from the animal.
    • Our teams observe the animal as it swims away to check it is moving freely.
    • A team debriefing is conducted to review the release process.

We appreciate and acknowledge the following groups and organisations who help us respond to entangled animals:

Also consider:

Last updated: Unpublished