Dolphins are being killed by Queensland government’s shark net program, reporting has revealed.
Figures collected since May indicate four dolphins died and two were released, with Humane Society International (HSI) labelling the numbers “horrifying”.
Eleven sea turtles were also netted along with over 100 sharks, in drum lines which the authorities say protect beachgoers in regions including Cairns, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
A Fisheries Queensland spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the government always puts “human life and human safety first” and that suitable alternatives to their program are have not been proven.
“Fisheries Queensland is committed to investigating avenues to minimise impacts on non-target species,” a spokesperson said.
Opponents say killing with shark nets does not reduce risk to swimmers
While authorities maintain they are focused on continually improving their shark net program to meet community expectations, HSI’s ’s Lawrence Chlebeck said he expects most Australians would be particularly upset that the bycatch includes dolphins.
Looking at a longer timeline of bycatch statistics, Mr Chlebeck estimates on average one and a half marine mammals are caught every month and that the program has also nabbed vulnerable species including hammerhead sharks.
Describing the government’s program as “unscientific and archaic”, he said he is also concerned that with global shark numbers continuing to plummet, many species are still being wilfully targeted by netting.
“My response to government saying putting human life and safety first is then they need to listen to the science because if that was the case, they'd be listening to all the shark researchers,” Mr Chlebeck said.
“Stopping the lethal component of the Queensland shark control programme will not increase the risk to swimmers.”
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