Bringing transparency to destructive government shark bite mitigation programs.
In Australia, Operation Apex Harmony is working to end the destructive and ineffective shark bite mitigation programs of the New South Wales and Queensland governments. We are also monitoring the positive changes that have been implemented in Western Australia. In all of these states proven non-lethal methods can be implemented.
The Problem in Queensland
Since 1962, the Queensland Government has been killing sharks and other marine life providing a false sense of security in the name of beach safety. Successive governments have toed the same line despite no science backing claims that the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) has saved lives. In 2017, Labor won government with a platform that included an undertaking of, “investigation and ongoing scientific review of non-lethal shark monitoring” and to “recognise the need to protect important and vulnerable species.” We are working to hold the Labor government to this and bring transparency to the QSCP.
The Problem in New South Wales
The first shark net was installed in Sydney in 1937, with others gradually deployed at 51 beaches from Newcastle to Wollongong to expand the program. The Shark Meshing Program is managed by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries (as part of a Joint Management Agreement with NSW Office of Environment and Heritage) and is generally deployed between September till April (weather and ocean conditions permitting). Net contractors across seven regions set nets 500m offshore for 17 days in a month and inspect the nets every 72 hours.
Since the program's inception, over 20,000 animals have been caught in these nets, with many losing their lives all for a false sense of safety. This is based on known available data however this could be much higher due to poor or no record keeping from the early years onward, lack of processes, and independent observers.
Using our main asset, the small boat ‘Grey Nurse’, we actively monitor shark nets and drumlines in Queensland and New South Wales, bringing transparency to the programs by recording images and footage. Our campaign uses social media and traditional media challenges to bring our message to the public in local areas affected by government decisions and the broader community in each state.