Humane Society International Australia Inc v Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - EDO NSW

Humane Society International Australia Inc v Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Humane Society International Australia (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, sought independent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) decision to approve a lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

HSI lodged an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which required a full reconsideration of the approval of the shark control program. The 10-year lethal control program targets 19 shark species in the Marine Park, including threatened and protected species. [The program originally targeted 26 species but seven were removed in July 2018.] The appeal was based on the public interest in protecting the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The case was heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from 30 January to 1 February 2019.

Video: A case for sharks

2 April 2019: The legal challenge was wholly successful, with the AAT finding that the Shark Control Program within the Marine Park must avoid the lethal take of sharks. More here >>

12 April 2019: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries appealed the AAT decision. The Federal Court granted a temporary stay of the AAT orders which will remain in place until that appeal is heard later in the year. 

Background: The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Area globally recognised as an outstanding example of biological evolution, containing unique, rare and superlative natural features and areas of exceptional natural beauty. The World Heritage listing notes that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth and one of the most significant for biodiversity conservation. Australia has a legal responsibility to ensure its protection.

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef. HSI is concerned about the ongoing impacts caused by the use of lethal drumlines which are known to impact not only on shark species but also dolphins, turtles and rays. HSI is calling for non-lethal alternatives for bather protection.

In these proceedings, the AAT was presented with expert evidence based on the best available science relating to shark control programs.

Belinda Rayment, Solicitor at EDO NSW, has carriage of this matter for HSI Australia.

We are grateful to barristers Philip Clay SC, Saul Holt SC, Natasha Hammond and Dr Chris McGrath for their assistance in this matter.

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