Shark barrier trial
Shark barriers create a fixed swimming enclosure, from the shoreline out to sea, and from the water surface to the seabed. Shark barriers have been used successfully in Western Australia to maximise swimmer safety while minimising harm to sharks or other marine life.
Identifying suitable locations for a barrier is dependent on local conditions.
- Beaches in South-East Queensland are unsuitable for shark barriers due to surf conditions (also known as ‘high energy’ beaches).
- Beaches in North Queensland are partially protected by the Great Barrier Reef and may be more suitable (referred to as ‘low energy’ beaches).
A site suitability and risk assessment was undertaken within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) and considered the following factors:
- Prevailing weather conditions
- Risk of extreme weather such as cyclones and floods
- Tidal range and currents
- The shape, slope, and depth of the beach
- Protected marine habitats, such as seagrass meadows and fringing reef
- Local beach infrastructure, such as boat ramps, piers, jetties
- Existing stinger nets at many beaches
- Community support would be required before any installation.
The site suitability assessment identified several limiting factors, including:
- Heavy tropical rains and river flows during the wet season carry large amounts of debris, risking structural failure of the barriers.
- Large tidal ranges and currents exist in Central Queensland.
- Some sites contained protected seagrass meadows and fringing reef.
- In North Queensland it was found that the community consider marine stingers and crocodiles a greater risk for swimmers than sharks. Shark barriers do not prevent stingers and cannot remove the risk of crocodiles entering the shark barrier.
- Negative feedback was received on the visual impact of a shark barrier and whether the existence of a barrier could be perceived as an increased risk of shark interactions.
Based on this assessment, shark barriers are not considered suitable for Queensland beaches at this time. The department will continue to monitor advancements in technology regarding shark barriers, including beached based electronic barriers, for future consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thirty beaches in north Queensland with existing shark control equipment in place were assessed. Of these, only two were considered most suitable.
The criteria for a suitable site included
- Tidal ranges less than 3.5m.
- Currents less than 1m/s.
- Water depths at Lowest Astronomic Tide (LAT) greater than 1m.
- Maximum wave height less than 2m.
- No sea grass meadows or fringing reef.
- Not adjacent to river mouths (due to flood run off).
Find out more
To find out more about the shark barrier trial, contact us on email@example.com or call 13 25 23.
Last updated: 28 Oct 2022