Sharks nets legislation risks a false sense of security for NSW ocean users

11 November 2016

Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson, Justin Field, has cautioned the NSW Government that shark nets are not a silver bullet and risk giving the community a false sense of security while destroying the marine environment so many people in NSW love.

The call comes after the rushed passage of legislation through the NSW Upper House this week that will allow the installation of shark nets at beaches along the NSW Coast. The legislation is expected to pass the Lower House next week.

“In the rush and media frenzy what has been lost in this debate is the fact that shark nets won’t guarantee public safety,” said Mr. Field.

“Some within the Government and some interest groups talk about shark nets as if they will solve the problem of shark bite on North Coast beaches. That risks giving the community a false sense of security and undermining the non-lethal approaches that have been recommended by the Government’s own experts.

“Nets are not a barrier and bites do occur at netted beaches. They also have unintended consequence like catching and killing other marine life.

“People will also be alarmed to learn that the legislation isn’t specific to the North Coast. The Minister will have tremendous power to put nets or other devices to catch and kill sharks across the entire NSW coastline.

“While I don’t believe it is the intention of the Government to deliberately kill or harm sharks or other marine animals that is the likely consequence of this legislation and it is being done despite the fact that it won’t guarantee public safety.

“The Greens are committed to a science based approach to keep people as safe as possible whilst respecting our wild oceans and the creatures that live in it, including sharks.”

Last month the Greens released their non-lethal response to shark management in NSW  that called for investment in shark spotter programs which engage the local community in the solution and have been shown to reduce shark bites on other locations. The plan also supports redirecting resources to more shark towers, coordinating Life Saving resources and supporting the development of personal protective equipment. “No one can guarantee complete safety but we can do more by supporting community led programs and helping bring to market technology that enables individual users to take their own precautions. Shark nets are not the answer,” said Mr. Field.

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