LETHAL SHARK NET TRIAL BEGINS TODAY AFTER DUBIOUS FEDERAL EXEMPTION
23rd November, 2017
Humane Society International says Minister Josh Frydenberg is misusing an exemption which is supposed to be reserved for national defence and security emergencies to allow an ecologically destructive trial of shark nets to continue on the NSW North Coast for another two years.
The second trial of lethal shark nets on the NSW North Coast begins today after Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg granted a second exemption to the NSW Government earlier this month. The first trial was an ecological disaster so granting a second exemption without proper environmental impact assessment, as the law would normally require, is reckless and will cause the deaths of more endangered marine life, says Humane Society International.
Minister Frydenberg gave a two year exemption to the NSW Government to conduct further shark net trials between 1 November 2017 and 31 October 2019, despite the shocking number of harmless and threatened marine animals killed and negative community feedback after the first trial concluded in May this year.
“The first NSW North Coast shark net trial was an utter failure, so the Minister’s reasoning for granting another, longer exemption is tenuous and contradicts his responsibility as Federal Environment Minister to ensure endangered species are protected,” said Jessica Morris, Humane Society International’s Marine Scientist. “When is a trial no longer a trial and recognised for what it is –just a means to subvert the law?”
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, four dolphins and 11 threatened marine turtles.
“The NSW Government doesn’t need to do another trial of the nets. A primary school student could tell them that they are an ecological disaster,” continued Ms Morris. “The decision to reinstate the nets is not even supported by the local community or the greater Australian public.
“The Federal Environment Minister seems to be listening to the Daily Telegraph and The Australian newspaper in granting the trial rather than the Australian community and scientific evidence,” said Ms Morris.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries released figures 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. Far greater support was expressed for non-lethal bather protection measures which the NSW Government already has in use elsewhere on the coast and that are more effective at protecting swimmers, surfers and marine life.
The misuse of the national emergency exemption is one more reason why Australia’s national environment laws need an urgent overhaul. Humane Society International is very worried to see what the Environment Minister will exempt next in the so called ‘national interest’.
Read our latest blog post Shark Nets – busting the myths for a detailed look at the current science and politics of shark net use in NSW and Queensland