The NSW Greens have called for shark nets to be hauled up for good from NSW beaches following the release of government data on the metropolitan shark net meshing program, and North Coast shark net and SMART drumline trials.
The Shark Meshing Annual Report report showed shark nets deployed along the NSW coast from Wollongong to Newcastle caught and/or killed 403 marine creatures in 2017/18, including dolphins, rays and endangered turtles.
The report into shark nets also found:
- 295 of the marine animals caught (55%) were killed in the nets.
- threatened and protected species caught and/or killed in the nets, included non-threatening Grey Nurse Sharks, Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles and dolphins.
- there were a total of 34 target sharks and 369 non-target animals caught.
The results from the NSW North Coast reveals smart drumlines snared eight times more ‘target sharks’ than nets between November and May in a trial at five north coast beaches with virtually no by-catch compared to shark nets. .
Greens Marine Spokesperson Justin Field urged the NSW Government to heed the evidence of its own data and haul up the shark nets for good - on the North Coast and beyond.
“The facts are in. We have ample evidence that the shark netting program in NSW is really a culling program and primarily it is culling rays, turtles, and non-threatening sharks. Shark nets do little to improve beach safety but take a terrible toll on local marine life,” he said.
"I’m calling on NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair to abandon the shark net program on the NSW North Coast and across Sydney's beaches and to redirect those resources into more effective, non-lethal technologies, including the targeted use of SMART drumlines.
"But ultimately, the best long-term solution is to move away entirely from lethal options like shark nets to community based observers programs, better resourcing volunteer and professional life guarding services, drone surveillance technology and community awareness of the importance of healthy shark populations and how to avoid shark risks.
"Shark netting has been an unmitigated disaster for marine animals the the evidence shows that. The next season of the shark meshing program off Sydney beaches is due to start in September, the NSW Government should leave the nets out of the water and engage with the community to put in place an alternative plan now,” Mr Field said.
Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2017/18 Annual Performance Report:
Community survey results on the second North Coast Net Trial:
Results of shark NSW North Coast shark net and SMART drumlines trials: