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Catch alert drumline trial

Catch alert drumlines use satellite technology to notify contractors when an animal is caught. If an alert is received, the contractor will attend to the captured animal as soon as possible.

SMART drumlines (developed at Reunion Island and trialled in New South Wales and Western Australia) are a type of catch alert drumline.

We began our trial of catch alert drumlines in September 2021 at 4 beaches on the Capricorn Coast, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

This trial is part of the Queensland Government’s investment in trials of alternative shark mitigation technology to determine what may be suitable for Queensland coastal conditions.

Read more below about where catch alert drumlines are being used, how they work, how captured animals are treated and how we are monitoring and assessing the trial.

Locations of catch alert drumline trials

Catch alert drumlines will be trialled at four beaches in the Capricorn Coast (Yeppoon) region:

  • Mulambin Beach
  • Tanby Point
  • Fisherman Beach
  • Emu Park Beach

The trial began in September 2021 and will continue to June 2022.

Differences between drumlines and catch alert drumlines

Drumlines and catch alert drumlines use baited hooks to target and catch potentially dangerous sharks, aiming to reduce the risk to people in the water at popular beaches. They are well beyond the surf zone, well away from beach users. Drumlines and catch alert drumlines are set to intercept sharks travelling the coast and the minimal bait used is insufficient to attract sharks to the area.

A drumline is a baited fishing hook suspended from a large plastic float anchored to the seabed. Drumlines are baited and deployed 24 hours a day. In the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are checked daily by contractors on servicing days. The hooks are temporarily de-baited and rendered ineffective on non-servicing days.

Catch alert drumlines also use a baited fishing hook suspended from a large plastic float anchored to the sea beach. A catch alert unit is attached which uses satellite technology to send a notification to a contractor when an animal is caught.

Catch alert drumline © Queensland Government
Shark control program catch alert drumline. The image shows catch alert drumline components of floats, anchor, catch alert unit, triggering magnet and hook.

How the catch alert drumline trial works

The catch alert drumline trial is conducted according to the permit issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Catch alert drumlines are being trialled at 4 beaches in the Capricorn Coast region where drumlines have been in place for many years. Drumlines and catch alert drumlines will be alternated across 4 beaches in the Capricorn Coast. The order of drumlines and catch alert drumlines will be reversed periodically. This approach enables the project team to compare and report on catch rates of drumlines and catch alert drumlines.

Overall the same number of drumlines and catch alert drumlines will remain in place at each beach, 22 in total across the 4 beaches.

A contractor is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the catch alert drumlines by:

  • deploying and baiting the catch alert drumlines early in the morning on servicing days
  • monitoring for alerts from the GPS communication units throughout the day
  • attending to the captured animal as soon as possible, preferably within one hour if an alert is received
  • removing the catch alert drumline unit and hook each evening (or earlier in the day if sea conditions are forecast to become unsafe.

Treatment of captured animals

Bull, tiger and white sharks captured on catch alert drumlines or drumlines will be tagged and released away from the site of capture, when possible and safe to do so.

Tracking tags provide data on shark movements. As tagged sharks travel along the Queensland coastline, the tag ‘pings’ on an array of underwater receivers. This helps scientists map where and when sharks travel.

All other shark species and other animals are released alive, whenever possible and safe to do so.

Catch alert drumline trial aims

The catch alert drumline trial aims are to:

  • compare catches of potentially dangerous sharks and other marine animals on traditional and catch alert drumlines
  • compare the rates of survival, at point of release, of marine animals captured on traditional and catch alert drumlines
  • consider trial results to determine whether catch alert drumlines are suitable for long term use in Queensland coastal conditions.

Monitoring and evaluation

Catch data from the trial is updated below each month.  At the completion of the trial, a report on the trial outcomes will be prepared to inform government decisions on whether catch alert drumlines are suitable for long-term use in Queensland coastal conditions. The trial results will be reviewed by the shark control program Scientific Working Group.

Catch alert drumline catch – 9 September to 30 November 2021

Species

Number caught (released alive)

Tiger sharks

1 (1)

Bull sharks

3 (2)

Other sharks

13 (7)

Traditional drumline catch – 9 September to 30 November 2021

Species

Number caught (released alive)

Tiger sharks

4 (4)

Bull sharks

9 (1)

Other sharks

21 (4)

Extending or expanding the catch alert drumline trial

Catch alert drumlines may also be trialled in other locations of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, including Cairns, Townsville and Mackay pending the outcomes of the initial trial on the Capricorn Coast.

Subject to initial results and review of the trial by the shark control program Scientific Working Group, the timing of the trial in the Capricorn Coast may be extended beyond June 2022.

Other than at the catch alert drumline trial locations, traditional drumlines will remain in place at Queensland beaches. A report on the catch alert drumline trial outcomes will inform future government decisions on whether catch alert drumlines are suitable for long term use in Queensland conditions.

Find out more

Contact the shark control program team on scp@daf.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

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Last updated: 07 Dec 2021