Removal of NSW shark nets critical as SMART drumline trial confirmed for Sydney's Northern Beaches

By : Humane Society International January 11, 2019

Humane Society International says the planned installation of SMART drumlines on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is only a step in the right direction if it results in the complete removal of the indiscriminate and deadly shark nets.

It was revealed yesterday by 7 News that a three month trial of SMART drumlines will take place at beaches from Manly to Dee Why and Newport to Barrenjoey Headland (Palm Beach).

However, the organisation says that until the shark nets are removed, the installation of the SMART drumlines on Sydney beaches will only increase the impact on the marine environment.

"The most urgent action the NSW government needs to take is the complete removal of the shark nets in the state. In the last shark net season, nets caught 403 animals including 14 turtles, 7 dolphins and 20 critically endangered grey nurse sharks.  Removal of these death traps is long past due,” said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner from Humane Society International.

There have been 33 recorded shark bites at netted beaches in NSW. Humane Society International supports more effective strategies for the protection of ocean users that are not harmful or lethal to sharks and other wildlife.

SMART drumlines are more targeted than shark nets and are intended to be "non-lethal” but are not without impact, and there are concerns over the survival of animals after being caught. These drumlines have large baited hooks and when an animal is hooked on them a signal is sent to a contractor to come and release them. Non-target animals will be released at the site while the target sharks are tagged and towed out to sea for release.

"Smaller non-target species of sharks like endangered hammerhead and grey nurse sharks have a high rate of post-release mortality, and they are being caught on SMART drumlines in NSW. They are too vulnerable to be tagged and it is possible they will not survive the stress of catch and release from this technology,” said Mr Chlebeck.  

Humane Society International commends the NSW Government for looking beyond shark nets, but hopes a completely non-lethal approach to bather protection will be its shark mitigation policy moving forward.

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