Ballina shark net media event shows politics, not science, behind Mike Baird’s plan

Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson Justin Field has called on Mike Baird to stop playing politics with shark nets and get behind the community based Shark Watch program to help improve public safety while protecting the beautiful North Coast marine environment.

The call follows an announcement that the Premier will travel to Ballina today (Friday) for a media event for the installation of the first of five shark nets planned in a trial for the North Coast.

The netting trial was authorised under legislation rushed through the Parliament this week and exempted from federal environment laws under special emergency powers used by the federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg.

Mr Field said, “Mike Baird’s whirlwind media focussed trip to the North Coast shows his nets trial is more about politics than about science.”

“The speed of legislation and the failure to consult meaningfully on the design and management of the trial shows it for the PR exercise it is.”

“That’s a real shame when a community based non-lethal solution is ready to go in Shark Watch and with a very small Government investment could be rolled out across the region.”

“Communities up and down the NSW coastline want to know they are part of the solution and they need resources to take up that role. Efficient shark management must include government doing the heavy lifting on research, infrastructure and surveillance and the community getting supported to run proven programs like Shark Watch.”

“Shark nets are an out-dated technology and we can do better. There have been many shark bites at netted beaches in the past. Shark nets can’t guarantee public safety and we need to be honest about that instead of painting them as the solution. Rushing through legislation for more old-style shark mesh nets shows the Baird Government is moving away from a science based approach.

“What we do know is that shark nets kill hundreds of marine animals including dolphins and turtles and non-target and endangered sharks – communities don’t want that collateral damage.“Governments can’t fully remove the risk of shark bites but people want a science based approach and support for local solutions not a political fix for the government”, concluded Mr. Field.

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