Deadly shark nets claim dolphin at Whale Beach
A dolphin has become the latest shark net victim on Sydney’s northern beaches. The dead dolphin was discovered by netting contractors on Monday the 27 March in the net off Whale Beach. Shocked bystanders captured the dolphin on camera and provided the images to Humane Society International.
The finding is sadly a common occurrence, with a dugong also caught in the shark nets off Queenscliff only weeks ago.
“I would expect most Sydneysiders to object to the lethal shark nets when they realise that innocent dolphins, rays and other harmless species are common victims”, said Nicola Beynon from the Avalon based Humane Society International.
Contrary to popular belief the shark nets do not effectively control sharks by excluding them from the beach. Roughly a third of sharks caught are on the inside of the nets having already swum into the beach.
In NSW between 1995 and 2004, 72 great white and tiger sharks were killed in nets. Over the same period 1,485 other marine animals were caught and killed in nets, including turtles, whales, dolphins, rays, dugongs, and harmless species of sharks.
New South Wales and Queensland are the only states in Australia to use shark control nets. HSI has been urging NSW and Queensland to replace shark nets with more environmentally friendly control methods such as increased aerial patrols and warning systems.
As a result of a HSI nomination shark nets are formally recognised in NSW legislation as a key threatening process to threatened species, particularly for their impact on the critically endangered grey nurse shark east coast population. Last year Sydney’s beach nets killed at least two breeding female grey nurse sharks. With a population of no more than 500 individuals left on the east coast, the loss of even one female is detrimental to species’ survival prospects.
“Shark nets are having a terrible impact on marine wildlife off Sydney’s beaches”, said Nicola Beynon, HSI’s Wildlife & Habitat Program Manager. “The numbers of marine animals needlessly killed in these programs tells us that we must find an alternative way to protect swimmers.”
The NSW Fisheries Minister, Ian Macdonald, is convening a meeting in April to discuss the problems with the shark nets but Humane Society International and other conservation groups are not invited.