Hundreds of sharks are still dying on the Great Barrier Reef despite the introduction of a 'non-lethal' control program, according to Humane Society International.
HSI has issued the "progress report" a year on from the Queensland government ordering an end to the culling of sharks in the marine park.
While drumlines are still used, a ruling by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal requires the control program to avoid "to the greatest extent possible, the lethal take of shark species".
The ruling also said SMART drumlines should be trialled and implemented as soon as reasonably possible. The technology alerts authorities when a shark has been caught to aid its quick release.
While fewer tiger sharks are being killed, analysis by HSI found mortality rates for smaller species "remain high".
Of the 178 sharks caught in the marine park between February and December 2020, only 41 were released alive, it found.
"Where once all tiger sharks found alive on the lines were shot and killed, those found alive are now being tagged and relocated offshore," HSI marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said.
"Nevertheless, approximately 50 per cent of tiger sharks hooked are still dying.
"HSI is concerned that 23 tiger sharks hooked still died since the orders came into effect and that the mortality rates for smaller sharks remain high."
Checking existing drumlines daily would also help reduce the number of deaths, HSI suggests.
Planning for a SMART drumline trial in central Queensland in 2021 is currently underway, Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said.
"Shark contractors operating in the Marine Park check drumlines up to 260 days per year and tag, relocate and release tiger, bull and white sharks alive where possible and safe for them to do so, as required under the permit," he said.
"The Queensland government will not compromise on the safety of water users and will continue investing in the program."
Australian Associated Press