Another whale trapped in same Queensland shark net: 'Traumatising'

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·Environment Editor
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A whale has become entangled in Queensland government shark nets on Friday, the third in just one week.

Caught off Kirra on the Gold Coast, rescuers from Sea World and Queensland Fisheries attended the scene.

“We received a report at 6.30am of a whale being entangled at Kirra,” said Samy Fary from Queensland Fisheries Patrol’s Marine Animal Release Team (MART).

Rescuers worked to free the whale from the shark nets. Source: Sea World
Rescuers worked to free the whale from the shark nets. Source: Sea World

Fisheries said the crews arrived at about 8.15am and released the whale from the net at around 9.00am.

The entanglement comes as the Palaszczuk government continues to defy mounting calls to remove the nets during the migration season.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner's own scientific experts have recommended a trial removal of shark nets during the whale migration season.

A 2017 Senate Committee Report found there is overwhelming evidence that lethal shark control measures cannot guarantee public safety.

A whale trapped in shark nets off the Gold Coast. Source: ABC
A whale has become trapped in shark nets off the Gold Coast on Friday morning. Source: ABC

Animal welfare groups urge government to remove nets

Humane Society International’s marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck has urged the government to listen to the advice of its scientists.

"In a single week we've seen three whales entangled in shark nets because of the Queensland government's stubborn refusal to remove them during the migration season,” he said.

“Every entanglement is extremely traumatising and can have long-term impacts on whales even if they are successfully released.”

Australian Marine Conservation Society shark expert Dr Leonardo Guida took to Twitter with a passionate speech, calling on the Queensland government to remove the nets.

"This is the fifth for the season and it’s less than 72 hours since the other one was caught at Kirra beach,” he said.

“And it’s in the same damn net, at the same damn beach, almost at the same damn time.”

Sea Shepherd said its been a “horror start” to the migration season for Queensland, with campaigner Lauren Sandeman expressing frustration the nets are yet to be removed.

“It’s past time for the Queensland Fisheries Minister, Mark Furner, to act on the scientific advice he’s been receiving for years to remove these nets during whale season to stop these events occurring like clockwork each year,” she said.

Minister responds to calls to remove shark nets

In a statement issued to Yahoo News Australia on Friday, Minister Furner reaffirmed his commitment to the shark net program.

"Human life will always come first for the Palaszczuk Government," he said.

"We are investing in research and technology, but we simply will not make changes to the program unless we are convinced they are safe in Queensland conditions.

"Our contractors and marine animal rescue teams do amazing work to minimise impacts on other marine life, while maintaining a program that has helped to keep Queenslanders safe since 1962."

Queensland Fisheries said since 2013 there have been 58 entanglements with 56 whales released alive.

The nets are known to kill a number of non-target species including marine turtles and dolphins.

Anyone who sees a marine animal caught in shark netting is urged to call the 24-hour Shark Hotline on 1800 806 891.

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