Legal challenge to Barrier Reef shark cull

A Great Barrier Reef shark culling program is to face a legal challenge.
A Great Barrier Reef shark culling program is to face a legal challenge.

Queensland's Great Barrier Reef shark culling program is to be challenged in court by the Humane Society.

Humane Society International will push for the removal of 173 lethal drumlines installed in the world heritage-listed marine park at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The society will argue the decision is in conflict with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's responsibility to protect the reef, which is a global treasure, it says.

"Climate change and commercial fishing are putting a lot of pressure on the reef's ecosystem, which is fragile and under severe pressure," head of campaigns Nicola Beynon says in a statement on Thursday.

"We need to be doing all that we can to build up the reef's resilience and part of that is protecting sharks."

A healthy reef needs a healthy shark population - culling them is outdated and there are better ways to protect swimmers, she says.

Drone technology, shark repelling devices and better education about where and when to swim safely are already being trialled in other states, she says.

There are 19 species of shark on the target list and most of them are not known to bite people, Ms Beynon says.

They're being killed unnecessarily, along with turtles, sting rays and in some cases, dolphins, Ms Benyon says.

Nets and drumlines were introduced to Queensland waters in 1962.

More than 500 animals were caught on the drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef since July 2016, the society says.

The majority drowned on the drumlines, however, 91 sharks were found alive and shot dead.

The challenge will be heard in Brisbane on January 30.

Australian Associated Press