Minutes 5 April 2018

Queensland Shark Control Program Scientific Working Group Minutes

5 April 2018
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Burdekin Room
9-15 Langton Street, Garbutt Q 4814

Attendees - Members

Name Position / Organisation
Mark Doohan Chair / Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)
Jeffrey Krause Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Matthew Campbell Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Rean Gilbert Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)
Colin Simpfendorfer James Cook University
Russell Blanchard Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ)
Richard Fitzpatrick (via Skype) Biopixel TV; James Cook University
Angela Freeman Alliance for Sustainable Tourism
Adam Smith Reef Ecologic, Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) Secretary

Apologies

Name Position / Organisation
Wayne Sumpton Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Secretariat

Name Position / Organisation
Tracey Scott-Holland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

1.   Introduction

The Chair thanked members for attending. New members, Adam Smith and Angela Freeman, were welcomed.

Rean Gilbert moved that the minutes of the previous meeting be accepted. The motion was seconded by Colin Simpfendorfer.

2. Conflict of Interest Disclosures

The Chair discussed the requirement to declare conflicts of interest. The requirement to declare when there is no conflict of interest was also discussed. A register of declared conflicts of interest has been created and will be reviewed at the commencement of each meeting.

3.   Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct

The Terms of Reference for the Queensland Shark Control Program Scientific Working Group (the Group) state that members must comply with the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service. A copy of the Code was provided to members.

4.   Action Items from previous meeting

The status of action items from the previous meeting was discussed and is provided in Table 1.

5. Monitoring the Development of non-lethal technologies

The Chair discussed a recent meeting between New South Wales (NSW), Western Australia (WA) and Queensland agencies involved in shark control and the potential for the 2015 Cardno report (Shark Deterrents and Detectors) to be updated to reflect current technologies. Any developments will be monitored by DAF (Action Item 2.1).

Results of smart drumline trials in NSW were discussed. The costs and logistic issues associated with potential use of smart drumlines in Queensland e.g. response times (20 minutes in NSW) were also discussed.

New South Wales is investigating the potential application of drones for shark control. Surf lifesaving organisations are also using drones for some purposes. Richard Fitzpatrick advised that technological advances in camera technology e.g. hyperspectral cameras combined with artificial intelligence, are delivering significant improvements in the ability to detect sharks. The certification requirements for operators varies depending on whether the drone is operated within or out of sight of the operator.

Richard Fitzpatrick provided information about Dorsal which takes inputs from multiple technologies including drones and sends alerts through a range of media. www.dorsalwatch.com

6. Non-dangerous species review

Colin Simpfendorfer, Matthew Campbell and Wayne Sumpton provided feedback out of session on the current list of target shark species.  The Group agreed the following species should be immediately removed from the list: School Shark Galeorhinus galeus; Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus; Galapagos Shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis; Thresher Sharks (all species), Alopias spp.; Blacktip Reef Whaler, Carcharhinus melanopterus .

A recommendation will be made to DAF for these species to be immediately removed.  If removed, a subsequent application for variation to Schedule 3 of Marine Parks permit G17/33288.1 will be made.

It was agreed that the Galapagos Shark should be removed as it is not known to occur in Queensland waters and there are no records of this species being taken in the Queensland Shark Control Program (SCP).

The current target shark list includes three species of black tip sharks. The Group agreed the Blacktip Reef Whaler, Carcharhinus melanopterus, could be removed from the target species list.  The Group considered whether the Australian Blacktip Whaler, Carcharhinus tilstoni, could be also removed given it grows to a small size (max 2.0m but rarely greater than 1.6m). It was agreed however, that this species should remain on the list as it is difficult to distinguish this species in the fieldfrom the Common Blacktip Whaler, Carcharhinus limbatus, which is considered dangerous. A recent publication by Johnson et al. 2017 provided some information on distinguishing between these two species in the field.

It was agreed a formal risk assessment process should be developed for undertaking these assessments in future with Great Hammerhead, Mako, Oceanic Whitetip and Blue Sharks being first priority for assessment. The process should be based on the Australian Standard and include an assessment of likelihood and consequence, including whether the species has been associated with serious injuries or fatalities within Queensland, Australia or Internationally (Action Item 1.13). The GBRMPA risk assessment model may be able to be adapted. If the assessment recommends additional species for removal, a further recommendation to DAF will be made.

Analysis of where shark incidents occur and when would be beneficial (Action Item 2.2).

7. Research Strategy and Research Projects

The SCP Research Strategy is currently in development.

The Group discussed and endorsed two research projects:

  • Hook and Bait Experiments - The objectives of these experiments are to determine the effectiveness of stingray baits compared to current baits; and circle hooks compared to J type hooks, in catching large, potentially dangerous sharks and reducing non-target species interactions in particular, dolphin predation and incidental catch. The Group provided input into the sampling design and analysis. It was noted impacts on non-target species catch need to be closely monitored. Angela Freeman advised a number of crocodile processors dispose of meat from farmed animals and that it may be worth investigating the potential use of this as bait in the SCP. The species of stingrays to be used in the experiment are yet to be assessed.
  • Genetic Sampling and Analysis – Sharks and Rays - The objectives of this project are to assess the accuracy of species identification by contractors and to establish a bank of genetic samples that may be accessed by researchers for a range of genetic applications.

A Sampling and Analysis plan will be submitted to GBRMPA for these projects in accordance with Permit G17/33288.1 prior to commencement.

8. Hammerhead Shark Research update

Jeff Krause presented an update on the hammerhead shark research project by Johan Gustafson (PhD candidate Griffith University). DAF has provided some funding for the research.

9. Operation of SCP during stinger season in areas where stinger nets are deployed

The operation of the SCP during stinger season in areas where stinger nets are deployed was discussed (in response to public consultation undertaken during application process for Marine Parks Permit G17/33288.1):

It was noted at the previous meeting that people may swim outside of the enclosures. Data in relation to reported marine stings reported within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) both inside and outside of stinger enclosures was provided by SLSQ. The number of major stings outside of the enclosures was small in comparison to the number of stings overall (all GBRMP sting data for a 3 year period – inside/outside of stinger season/ stinger nets not delineated).

SLSQ also provided beach user statistics by month for the last 3 financial years. The statistics demonstrate that beach visitations are high in the GBRMP both between the flags and outside of the flags at all times of the year though there was variation between months and sites.

The SCP aims to reduce local populations of large sharks. The effectiveness of the Program in achieving this is unknown if the program was only in operation for part of the year (i.e. removed during stinger season).

Jeff Krause advised that historically Cairns used to have a ‘lay’ period of several months over summer where the apparatus was removed from the water. An analysis of whether there was a ‘spike’ in shark catch when the apparatus was returned to the water would be of relevance to this issue (Action Item 2.3). Adam Smith noted that a lay period may be beneficial for the biology of some species e.g. reducing catch during certain stages of the reproductive cycle such as pupping season.

An analysis of shark catch during and outside of the stinger season is also to be completed for further discussion (Action Item 1.8).

SLSQ provided additional data on total beach closure hours due to sharks at beaches within the GBRMP for the last 5 financial years. The group noted that overall the amount of time beaches were closed due to shark sightings was relatively low.

10. Education Program and Communication Plan

Jeff Krause advised that the SCP information on the DAF public website is currently under review.

A copy of the NSW Shark Smart flyer was distributed.

The Group discussed the importance of information being available in multiple languages.

The potential for use of social media in distributing safety messages was discussed. Angela Freeman advised that she can provide a list of social media channels used by other countries for consideration (Action Item 2.4). Options for collaborating with SLSQ in relation to their communication plan could also be explored.

A combined approach for marine creatures could be considered e.g. stingers, crocodiles and sharks. Biopixel (Richard Fitzpatrick) may be able to provide support in the form of photographs.

The Communication Strategy that accompanies Marine Parks Permit G17/33288.1 should be updated to reflect any changes implemented.

11. General Discussion

Adam Smith discussed his recent trip out with the Townsville contractor to service the SCP equipment and noted that the contractor conducted his operation in a highly professional manner. Adam enquired as to whether the Program had an environmental policy e.g. to address issues such as emissions from motors and rubbish blowing overboard. Rean Gilbert advised that this was addressed during the Risk Assessment conducted during the Permit assessment and is available online.

12. Next meeting

The next meeting is planned for September/October 2018 (date to be confirmed).

Adam Smith requested an agenda item on Social Science – people and attitudes.

The Chair closed the meeting at approximately 12:00pm.

13. Abbreviations and Acronyms

DAF                 Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

ECIFF               East Coast Inshore Finfish Fishery

GBRMP            Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

GBRMPA          Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

LMAC               Local Marine Advisory Committee

NSW                 New South Wales

SCP                 Queensland Shark Control Program

SLSQ               Surf Life Saving Queensland

WA                   Western Australia

14. References

Cardno (NSW/ACT) Pty Ltd (2015). Shark Deterrents and Detectors. Cardno Pty Ltd, 42 pp.

Johnson, G.J., Buckworth, R.C., Lee, H., Morgan, J.A.T., Ovenden, J.R. and McMahon, C.R. (2017). A novel field method to distinguish between cryptic carcharhinid sharks, Australian blacktip shark Carcharhinus tilstoni and common blacktip shark C. limbatus, despite the presence of hybrids. Journal of Fish Biology 90: 39-60.

Table 1: Status of action items from previous meeting.

Action No.ActionProgress Person/s responsible Completed? Y/N
1.1 Invitation to join the Group be extended to LMAC Townsville (possibly Adam Smith) and Matthew Broadhurst (NSW Fisheries). Adam Smith accepted invitation to become a member of the Group and in attendance. DAF in discussion with NSW regarding nomination of a member. Mark Doohan N
1.2 A list of stingray species used as bait in the program to be provided to the Group List of stingray species yet to be assessed by DAF. Jeff Krause N
1.3 Literature on take of turtles on circle hooks to be provided To be considered by DAF in relation to hook and bait experiments. Colin Simpfendorfer Y
1.4 Published scientific papers on Bull Shark migration to be provided Provided to Group Colin Simpfendorfer Y
1.5 An update on the Program funded project on Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks to be presented at the next meeting Provided to Group – see section 8 Jeff Krause Y
1.6 Safety publications by other agencies to be provided NSW Shark Smart flyer Tracey Scott-Holland Y
1.7 Methodology for assessing non-lethal technologies to be developed and distributed along with Cardno report. Mark Doohan discussed a recent meeting between NSW, WA and QLD Shark Control and plans to review the 2015 Cardno report. Jeff Krause
Tracey Scott-Holland
Y
1.8 Prepare data analysis of shark catch during and outside of the stinger season Yet to be completed Jeff Krause
Wayne Sumpton
Matthew Campbell
N
1.9 SLSQ to provide data on incidence of marine stings reported outside of stinger nets during stinger season Provided to Group – see section 9 Russell Blanchard Y
1.10 A list of non-target species taken and capture locations to be provided Provided to Group and discussed. Identification of graceful whalers to be checked. Jeff Krause Ongoing
1.11 DAF to investigate whether more detailed data is available in relation to ECIFF catch by species ECIFF stock assessment provided Wayne Sumpton
Matthew Campbell
Y
1.12 Invite George Leigh to provide an update of available data Not required, stock assessment provided Jeff Krause N – not required
1.13 Review the non-dangerous shark species list – out of session and prior to the next meeting. Jeff Krause to facilitate in association with Rean Gilbert, Colin Simpfendorfer, Richard Fitzpatrick, Matthew Campbell and Wayne Sumpton. In progress – see section 6 Jeff Krause
Tracey Scott-Holland
Y - ongoing
1.14 SLSQ to provide beach user statistics for the Marine Parks Provided to Group – see section 9 Russell Blanchard Y
1.15 Investigate whether New South Wales and South Africa have a research strategy and/or priorities. Yes – see section 7 Jeff Krause Y
1.16 Analyse and document the history of hammerhead sharks taken in the program. Yet to be completed Wayne Sumpton
Matthew Campbell
Tracey Scott-Holland
N

Table 2: Ongoing and new action items.

Action No.Action Person responsible Completed? Y/N
1.1 DAF to investigate possible member from NSW Fisheries. Mark Doohan  
1.2 A list of stingray species used as bait in the program to be provided to the Group Jeff Krause  
1.8 Prepare data analysis of shark catch during and outside of the stinger season Jeff Krause
Wayne Sumpton
Matthew Campbell
 
1.10 A list of non-target species taken and capture locations to be provided (completed). Identification of graceful whalers to be checked. Jeff Krause  
1.13 Review the non-dangerous shark species list – out of session and prior to the next meeting. Jeff Krause to facilitate in association with Rean Gilbert, Colin Simpfendorfer, Richard Fitzpatrick, Matthew Campbell and Wayne Sumpton. Progress recommendation for removal of listed species from the target list. Develop a formal risk assessment process for assessing additional species. Jeff Krause
Tracey Scott-Holland
 
1.16 Analyse and document the history of hammerhead sharks taken in the program. Wayne Sumpton Matthew Campbell Tracey Scott-Holland  
2.1 DAF to monitor review of bather protection technologies. Mark Doohan
Jeff Krause
 
2.2 Prepare analysis of when and where shark incidents occur. Jeff Krause  
2.3 Analyse shark catch in relation to contract ‘lay’ periods (historical) Matthew Campbell  
2.4 Angela Freeman to provide a list of social media channels used by other cultures for consideration Angela Freeman