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12th December - Senate report shows shark hysteria is unfounded      



12th December 2017

​​The Senate report into Shark Mitigation and Deterrent Measures released today shows there are better ways for dealing with our fear of sharks than culling programs, and that nets and drumlines should be replaced with non-lethal alternatives.

Humane Society International appeared as an expert witness at the hearings in Sydney leading up to today’s report and provided a submission, explaining how Australia’s outdated lethal shark control programs are ecologically damaging and do not make our beaches safer.

“Today’s Senate report on shark control supports Humane Society International’s arguments that we need to move away from lethal shark mitigation in Australia.

Humane Society International says the NSW and Queensland governments need to follow Western Australia and consign lethal shark nets and drumlines to the history books.

“Queensland has a culling program for 26 species of sharks, the majority of them harmless species. When any of the 26 species of shark are caught on drumlines in Queensland they are shot, even species that are threatened with extinction. They even have 173 drumlines killing sharks in the Great Barrier Reef,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International.

NSW has 150m long shark nets in place at 51 beaches which are indiscriminately killing all marine wildlife that cross their path. Threatened and harmless animals are caught in far greater numbers than the three sharks that are considered dangerous.

“Lethal shark nets and drumlines are more than 50 years behind scientific and animal welfare standards for dealing with marine wildlife, and this well-reasoned report is hopefully putting us a step closer in putting a stop to these cruel methods. There are numerous ways in which the public can be better protected in the water, the first step being proper education about our marine environment.

“The statistics show unequivocally that nets and drumlines do not reduce the already low risk of shark attack. We would have to drive all sharks to extinction for beach goers to be 100% protected from a shark – and who wants to empty our oceans of wildlife in order to enjoy a day out at the beach? Sharks are crucial for healthy marine ecosystems,” continued Ms Beynon.

The Senate Committee lists a number of recommendations for looking at shark mitigation and deterrent measures among which public education and non-lethal technology feature heavily.

Recommendation 1

8.19 The committee recommends that the New South Wales and Queensland Governments:

• immediately replace lethal drum lines with SMART drum lines; and

• phase out shark meshing programs and increase funding and support for the development and implementation of a wide range of non-lethal shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

Recommendation 3

8.29 The committee recommends that the Australian Government: • establish a publicly accessible national database of target and non-target species interactions with shark control measures; and • require the Department of the Environment and Energy to use this information to prepare and publish an annual assessment of the impacts of lethal shark control measures on target and non-target marine species.

Recommendation 8

8.46 The committee recommends that the Australian Government match funding provided by state governments in support of the development of new and emerging shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

Recommendation 11

8.56 The committee further recommends that relevant state governments consider developing programs for subsidising independently verified personal deterrent devices for occasional surfers at beaches associated with the risk of dangerous shark encounters.

Recommendation 13

8.63 The committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a National Shark Stakeholder Working Group comprising key stakeholders in shark management policies.

Recommendation 19

8.80 In light of the repeated use of section 158 exemptions for lethal shark control programs, the committee recommends that the next independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 carefully consider whether section 158 is operating as intended. In particular, the committee recommends that the independent review consider:

• whether the matters the Minister may consider in determining the national interest should be limited; and

• whether section 158 should be amended to prohibit the repeated granting of exemptions for the same controlled action or any other controlled action of a similar nature.

Humane Society International was the nominator responsible for listing the great white and grey nurse sharks as threatened with extinction under Australian law. We were also the nominator for the NSW shark meshing program as a key threatening process (KTP) under NSW Legislation. Earlier this year Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg refused to prioritise our scientific nomination for Australian shark control programs to be assessed for listing as a key threat to endangered species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

Minister Frydenberg came in for hefty criticism in the report for his misuse of a loophole in the EPBC Act to exempt shark control nets in NSW from environmental impact assessment and approval. He has been misusing a loophole reserved for national emergencies such as war and natural disasters to exempt shark nets from environmental impact assessment.

Humane Society International is challenging the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Government decision this year to install 173 drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef at a tribunal. We are asking the tribunal to overturn the decision pointing out that there are non-lethal methods to avoid shark interactions.


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