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:
- Surf Life Saving Queensland, the Australian Lifeguard Service and Gold Coast City Council lifeguards, whose lifesavers and lifeguards observe nets and drumlines from the beach or travel out to inspect equipment via watercraft.
- Volunteer whale observers, who are residents in high-rise apartments on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts who are trained to identify and confirm entanglements.
- Sea World Gold Coast, who provides support during animal releases and expert advice to Fisheries Queensland.
- Marine animal release team (MART) members, who are officers of Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) trained to respond to entangled animals.
- Local government and local tourism organisations.
- reading the rules for watching humpback whales
- viewing the map of shark control equipment in Queensland.
- finding out how we catch and detect sharks.
- reading about our shark management plan.
- learning our SharkSmart tips.
Last updated: Unpublished