Gold Coast bay and Moreton bay in the urbanised south-east Queensland are home to a large number of marine mammals including the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, dugongs, and the humpback whale. A recent study (http://www.hhr.org.au/files/BehaviourStudy.pdf ) has confirmed that humpback whales use the Gold Coast as a resting area during their southern migration. In particular mothers and calves were found to spend hours or days on the surface to rest with their calves near the shore.
Every year more whales and dolphins are being caught, injured and even killed in shark nets that are set 500 m offshore in attempt to kill large sharks. We have studied which nets catch most whales and dolphins and that we can stop a large number of horrible entanglements by lifting the nets for only a few weeks and still ensure safety for swimmers by replacing them with modern and better technology.
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More infos on shark nets from the government here.
An entanglement in a shark net can be viewed here.
Thank you for supporting marine life.
We are writing to express our deep concerns over the lack of effective measures to arrest the continued entanglement of whales and dolphins in shark nets on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
The Gold Coast prides itself on its natural resources – clean beaches, blue waters and abundant marine life with whale watching and marine-life based tourism a multi-million dollar industry in this region. Together with the Queensland government we all desire and have a duty of care to ensure that whales and dolphins continue to call our coast their home, now and in the future.
The eleven shark nets installed as part of the Queensland shark control program, in addition to continuing coastal modification, are putting whales and dolphins at risk.
In the past twenty-five years, there have been over one hundred and fifty reported entanglements of whales and dolphins in south-east Queensland shark nets with the majority being killed or injured and an unknown number of unattended incidents. In 2014 alone 6 whales were entangled and 8 dolphins were killed in the Gold Coast shark control program. Every year the risk of entanglements increases by almost 10% with increasing whale numbers migrating past the Gold Coast.
The entanglements of whales and dolphins in shark nets are costly, cause injury or death to the animals and put rescuers in danger. They are also negative publicity for a tourist destination and cause damage to Australia’s image as nation.
Australia has been a longstanding and outspoken advocate for the protection of cetaceans at the International Whaling Commission. Australia has also signed international agreements to protect threatened cetaceans in Australian waters. The rest of the world measures our country based on its action. Protecting whales at our doorstep is equally important as putting pressure on whale hunting nations.
The Gold Coast is home to a unique whale resting area in trust for the rest of the world. We therefore urge you to bring your efforts to secure south-east Queensland as an area where humpback whale calves can rest and dolphins forage without having to die or be injured in nets.
We wish for a constructive dialog with the government to establish independent research and translate the best available knowledge into effective management to stop entanglements. As a result, agreed policies and management actions can be established to protect humans and marine mammals.
We, the under signee, therefore ask you to work together to find solutions to remedy and mitigate the impacts of shark netting as a matter of urgency by:
• Centering management decisions and policies on the best available independent scientific information to prevent costly entanglements, causing unnecessary pain or death to marine mammals;
• Developing objective, science-based, measurable and testable management targets for the avoidance of entanglements;
• Implementing a comprehensive, scientifically sound observer program to identify and quantify interactions, and to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures.
• Removing nets during whale migration, in particular the nets in the southern Gold Coast bay with the highest incident numbers and replacing them with effective shark protection gear such as but not limited to: video/aerial surveillance; sonar barriers; satellite tagging and methods known to directly target large sharks.
We, the under signee are seeking a collaborative approach on effective strategies that mitigate and lessen entanglements of whales and dolphins in the Gold Coast bay.
Please, help us to protect whales and dolphins from entanglements.