Aussie bureaucrats accused of ‘sanitising’ bloody act against shark

While conservationists are outraged by the method used to kill the shark, the government maintains its contractors followed protocols.

WARNING CONFRONTING DETAILS: Conservationists have taken exception to a government agency labelling its contractors’ prolonged and repeated stabbing of a shark as an act of “euthanasia” — a word the Oxford dictionary describes as meaning a “gentle and easy death”.

A graphic video surfaced last week, showing the 2.8 metre tiger shark snared by a Queensland government drum line close to popular Sunshine Coast tourist beaches. Contractors hired by the Department of Fisheries (DAF) can be seen taking over five minutes to secure the creature, and then stabbing it repeatedly in the head for over a minute before cutting open its belly.

Responding to DAF’s statement, conservationist Andre Borell told Yahoo the method used to kill the ocean giant was “absolutely not euthanasia”.

“It’s just sanitising language by the department. That is slaughter, that is killing, that is something else, but I think it's unconscionable for them to be using the word euthanasia,” the Envoy Foundation founder said.

A drone shot showing the Sunshine Coast highrises in the background. In the foreground, the boat with DAF contractors can be seen. Blood surrounds the boat.
DAF has been accused of using "sanitising language" after describing the repeated stabbing of a shark in the head as "euthanasia". Source: Envoy Foundation

Borell is not alone in his criticism of the method used to kill the shark. The Humane Society International characterised DAF's treatment of the shark as “cruel”.

Fisheries refuses to answer questions about the word 'euthanasia'

Responding to the uproar, DAF said the killing of the shark on December 20 off Kings Beach at Caloundra was in line with “protocols”.

When asked by Yahoo News to explain what its understanding of the word “euthanasia” is and what its protocols entailed, DAF did not directly respond and instead reissued lines sent to media last week.

“Tiger sharks are a target species of the Shark Control Program and are considered dangerous. The shark was dealt with in accordance with Shark Control Program protocols,” it said in a written statement.

“The euthanised shark was taken approximately 3km out to sea for disposal.” It declined to provide further clarification about the use of the word "euthanasia". You can watch a video showing the shark's death below. While the footage is confronting, we have edited out the bloodiest moment of the killing.

Concern nets and drum lines are encouraging sharks close to swimmers

While DAF maintains drum lines and shark nets help to reduce the risk of shark bites, Borell argues the opposite outcome is often achieved. To back his claims, Envoy Foundation released images and video from November appearing to show a large manta ray being cut loose and dropped to the ocean floor after it was drowned by government shark nets.

“They just dumped it right there under the net,” Borell said.

“I spend so much time in the water with sharks, and if there’s one thing that motivates them to an area it’s food. And if you’re dropping a nice fresh manta ray right under that shark net, I can guarantee with absolute certainty that is going to bring sharks into the area.”

A dead manta ray in shark nets shot from above using a drone. Contractors in a boat are beside it.
A dead manta ray was cut from Queensland shark nets in November. Source: Envoy Foundation

Attempts were made to contact Queensland fisheries minister Mark Furner on Monday, but he was on leave and not available for comment.

Borell said the Queensland’s shark control program needs an “urgent overhaul”, something he hoped could be achieved following the resignation of Annastacia Palaszczuk as premier.

“We hope that the new premier Steven Miles, being a diver himself, can see everything that is wrong with this program,” he said.

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