Environmental groups are calling on the Queensland government to rethink measures used to protect beachgoers after releasing images of endangered sharks hanging dead off baited hooks in the Great Barrier Reef.
The images show two scalloped hammerhead sharks dangling lifelessly from hooks used by the Queensland government under its shark control program.
Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society say the images, obtained off the coast of Magnetic Island last month and released on Tuesday, are further proof that a new approach is needed to prevent attacks.
Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Humane Society International, said hooking sharks was an outdated way to prevent shark attacks.
"Lethal drum lines are an old and ineffective method of bather protection," she said.
"They catch and kill hundreds of non-target marine animals in the Great Barrier Reef ... [and] provide nothing more than a completely false sense of security, at the expense of the lives of threatened species."
Tooni Mahto, fisheries and threatened species campaign manager at Australian Marine Conservation Society said the footage highlighted the myopic attitudes towards sharks by successive Queensland governments.
"They have been using the same, ineffective, lethal methods since the 1960s. It is past time for a change in our views of sharks and a change in policy to reflect that," she said.
Nets and baited drum lines were introduced to Queensland waters in 1962 and target sharks that become hooked are shot on sight by government contractors who monitor them.
Environmental groups have been calling for their removal because they are indiscriminate and lead to the deaths of other animals, but the Queensland government insists they will stay because they save human lives.
According to statistics from Queensland's Shark Control Program, 10,480 sharks - most of them harmless - have been caught on lethal drum lines since 2001. Significant numbers of rays, turtles, fish and dolphins are also caught and killed on drumlines.
Humane Society International is taking legal action against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the state government.
It is arguing that allowing 173 lethal drum lines to operate within the Great Barrier Reef is inconsistent with the main objective of the Marine Park, which is "to provide for the long-term protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Region".
Since the legal challenge was launched, the state government has removed seven of 26 species of shark from its target list. This means that, while those species will no longer be shot dead if found alive on a drum line, they can still be hooked and die.
The case begins in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from January 30.
The Queensland government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been approached for comment.
AAP with Steve Jacobs