SHARK NET DECISION FLIES IN FACE OF SCIENCE
1st September 2017
Humane Society International is astounded by the NSW Government’s decision to reinstall lethal shark nets on the North Coast despite last season’s horrendous bycatch figures which saw the deaths of critically endangered and threatened marine life.
“The NSW Government’s decision flies in the face of science. It shows the Government is letting the Daily Telegraph dictate public policy decisions rather than having the courage to follow what their own data has shown them,” said Nicola Beynon, Humane Society International Head of Campaigns.
Last season’s shark net “trial” on the North Coast caught 9 target sharks making up only 3% of the total catch, with the remaining 97% comprising harmless marine animals, including a critically endangered grey nurse shark killed, four dolphins killed and the ensnaring of 11 threatened turtles. Whereas, SMART drumlines caught 36 target sharks comprising 92% of the catch and harmless marine wildlife was largely spared.
“Humane Society International has reservations about the SMART drumlines but clearly they better meet the Government’s objectives with far less impact on non-target marine life. It makes no sense for the Government to repeat another trial of the ecologically destructive nets,” said Ms Beynon.
The NSW DPI also released figures today that only 33% of locals from Ballina and Lennox Head had a positive view of the Trial in telephone surveys, and only 8% of people living outside the area viewed the Trial as positive, after it wrapped up earlier this year. Far greater support was expressed for non-lethal bather protection measures.
“The NSW government has shunned both science and public opinion and cowed to shock jock and tabloid media in deciding on another shark net season. This just goes to show how out of touch it is with the expectations of NSW residents who are rightly calling for non-lethal alternatives to bather protection,” continued Ms Beynon.
The survey also found that 87% of respondents supported listening stations and drones for shark detection surveillance.
Humane Society International has long called for the removal of shark nets across NSW beaches. Recent statistics released of bycatch from beaches from Wollongong to Newcastle were just as grim as those on the North Coast, with 6 grey nurse sharks, four dolphins and 73 hammerheads killed in the 2016-2017 season. The Federal Environment Minister is currently assessing three species of hammerheads for an Endangered listing in Australia.
“Non-lethal technology is clearly the future of bather protection and the NSW Government is falling behind with its archaic, out-of-date culling methods. It should be following the lead of the WA Government that is rejecting culling of our marine life in favour of non-lethal strategies,” concluded Ms Beynon.