Stop Whale Entanglements


Every year more dolphins and whales are becoming entangled in the shark nets set 500m off shore in a bid to kill large sharks. In the past few weeks alone have seen 3 humpbacks suffering after becoming entangled off Burleigh and Main Beach (both time calves!). The Gold Coast and Moreton Bay are home to a huge number marine mammals including humpback Whales, bottlenose and common dolphins, dugongs as well as countless fish and other marine animals. We need a better and more modern way of protecting our marine environment.

The number of Whales passing Queensland coasts every year is going up, with about 30,000 migrating up to our shores and back to Antartica every year! While its amazing to see these numbers climbing, Whales are being entangled, injured or even killed every year in shark nets off our beaches. It is hard to know the full extent of the problem but studies suggest that that over 300,000 whales and dolphins die annually around the world because of entanglement in fishing gear and nets. Entanglements in shark nets off the Queensland coast are predictable and occur every year.

This absolute travesty has got to stop!

There has been an increase in calving in recent years and mothers and calves were found to spend hours or days on the surface to rest with their calves near the shore. The Gold Coast is a resting area for the humpbacks during their southern migration as confirmed by a recent study, so during these weeks there's a significant chance of entanglement for mothers and calves. It is also dangerous for the crews sent in to save our marine life, creating dangerous situations during often difficult conditions to free animals from these nets.

According to Queensland Fisheries data 69 humpback whales, including 54 off the Gold Coast, had been caught in Queensland nets since 2001. Where this might seem like a small figure compared to the 30,000 migrating through our shores, it is unnecessary and the people have spoken, with a recent poll showing that 79% of Gold Coast residents voting to remove the shark nets.

Marine Biologists have suggested a number of alternatives to shark nets, including drone surveillance, shark spotters, tagging, enclosed beaches and personal shark deterrents

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."

HHR Humpbacks 2020

Recently, A marine biologist has called on the Queensland Government to adopt the findings of a scientific working group and replace shark nets with drumlines. Griffith University marine biologist Olaf Meynecke said with the whale season underway, shark nets presented an "ethical problem". Dr Meynecke said the State Government should instead use SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drumlines. The SMART drumlines use a device to alert fisheries operators when animals are caught.

Dr Meynecke said nets off Burleigh, Currumbin and Kirra on the Gold Coast should be replaced first as they have entangled the most whales, including a humpback last month.

More information on shark nets here.

A documentary about the shark nets can be watched here.

Humpbacks and Highways have started a petition to Hon. Mark Furner, MP (Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries) on to stop whale entanglements


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A member of the public noticed the animals in distress just after 11:00am.