A White shark caught off Maroochydore. Picture: Shark Control Program Manager Jeff Krause
A White shark caught off Maroochydore. Picture: Shark Control Program Manager Jeff Krause

Call-out for 23,000kg of mullet to catch sharks

THE sheer scale of the state's controversial Shark Control Program has been revealed, after a call-out was sounded for 23,000kg of mullet.

QTenders documents for the Shark Control Program bait revealed the latest contract, due to start at the end of this month, is seeking more than 30,000kg of bait for drum lines along the Queensland coastline.

Included in that figure was an estimated 4000kg of sea mullet and 3500kg of shark meat to be used baiting hooks off Sunshine Coast beaches.

The specifications for potential suppliers were quite strict.

Sea mullet had to be a minimum of 30cm long and weigh 600-700g.

The bait had to be whole fish, not gutted, and be fit for human consumption, as the shark bait also had to be.

Mullet fishermen at Caloundra. Photo by Robyn Hills.
Mullet fishermen at Caloundra. Photo by Robyn Hills.

Shark species other than protected or regulated species could also be targeted and used for bait as shark meat.

The shark meat had to be cut into pieces weighing 600-700g.

All bait had to be sourced from local suppliers, packaged, and delivered frozen, to shark control program bases around the state.

It was expected shark fishing contractors around the state would need orders 2-4 times a year.

The state's Shark Control Program had operated since 1962.

It is currently in place at 86 of the state's most-popular beaches, with 383 drum lines currently positioned off the coast.

The contract was due to start on August 29 and end on August 29, next year, but there were two, 12-month options to extend for the successful tenderer.

Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokeswoman Narelle McCarthy said in the scheme of things, the amount of bait required for the purpose was "really unacceptable".

She said it was interesting that the bait had to be fit for human consumption as well.

Ms McCarthy noted the size of the program on the Coast, given the region had the largest amounts of bait required in the state.

Mullet fishermen work along vast stretches of Coast beaches.
Mullet fishermen work along vast stretches of Coast beaches.

Contractors were required to keep at least one month's supply of bait stocked at all times, to ensure there was no chance late deliveries could affect the servicing of the equipment.

Poor quality bait deliveries would mean a reduction in the scheduled price, while poor quality bait, including incorrect size or weight, unfrozen or rotten, or from a protected shark species, would incur a 15 per cent reduction in scheduled price after three "unacceptable deliveries".

The annual cost of the state's shark control program was revealed to be about $3.3 million a year, in the State Government's response to a Senate inquiry into shark mitigation measures.

The Humane Society International will square off again with the State Government in Federal Court in Brisbane on Thursday.

The State's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is attempting to overturn a recent court ruling which banned it from operating a lethal Shark Control Program in the Great Barrier Reef.

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