Preparations have been stepped up for this year’s whale migration season with Queensdland's Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries officers undertaking annual training in marine animal release techniques in Mackay this week.
Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister and Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said that due to the ever-increasing whale population travelling Queensland’s coastline, it was crucial that DPI&F’s Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers were up-to-date on response techniques to free entangled animals from shark control equipment.
'Entanglements in shark control equipment generally occur later in the migration season around August and September when young inexperienced whales are on their way back from the northern breeding waters,.' Mr Mulherin said.
'Marine Animal Release Team training means our officers are well-prepared to respond to ensure caught animals have the best possible chance of survival.
'The Government places extreme importance on the Marine Animal Release Teams and their capabilities. With these teams in place, and the additional equipment such as fitted acoustic markers on the shark nets, we are aiming for a 100 percent deterrence rate this whale season,' he said.
DPI&F Shark Control Program manager Tony Ham said the highly-trained Marine Animal Release Teams were based on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and in Mackay.
'We try to make the training the teams undertake as realistic as possible with the use of a simulated whale tail and practice exercises such as cutting nets, releasing ropes and observation exercises,' Mr Ham said.
'However, one of the keys to successfully freeing an entangled animal is early notification. The sooner we are notified, the sooner the Marine Animal Release Teams can be on the scene to assist the animal. To this end, we would encourage the public to report suspected entanglements to the DPI&F Shark Hotline on 1800 806 891.'
Shark nets and drumlines are in place off 85 Queensland beaches to reduce the risk to bathers from shark attacks.
Since 2000, 22 whales have been caught in shark netting in Queensland. Of these entanglements, 19 whales have been successfully freed by the MARTs. Shark nets and drumlines are in place off 84 Queensland beaches to reduce the risk to bathers from shark attacks. http://www.cabinet.qld.gov.au/