Commentary by Allyson Jennings - NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator
Recently, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly Committee on Investment, Industry and Regional Development handed down its final recommendations on the management of sharks in New South Wales waters. This was the culmination of a parliamentary inquiry, which started in August 2015, seeing many stakeholders involved in the process. Sea Shepherd Australia made a submission to the inquiry and National Shark Campaign Coordinator, Natalie Banks was also asked to give evidence at the hearing in Ballina late last year.
Sea Shepherd commends the 13 recommendations handed down by the committee which are a detailed broad range of actions and solutions, many which can be acted upon in the near future to the benefit of ocean users and marine life. These included the trialling of a shark spotters program, which was a key recommendation from the independent review which the New South Wales Government commissioned last year, a review of the existing shark meshing program every three years (currently five years), the potential replacement of the shark meshing with more ecologically sustainable options like Eco Shark Barrier depending on trials, increasing funding, reforming procedures and further improvements to communicating information to the public.
However, a noticeable concern overshadows these recommendations in that the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries has been suggested to oversee numerous recommendations with no suggestion as to who they will be held accountable to. Given their current track record of minimal communication of research and development to stakeholders and the public, it is questionable whether New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is able to be transparent and carry out these recommendations by putting the ocean using public first before their own agenda.
The current trials of non-lethal technologies in New South Wales locations are a testament to this, with stakeholders and public displeased about the lack of consultation.
Sea Shepherd Australia once again calls for greater transparency and accountability as these 13 recommendations are implemented to ensure the best possible outcomes for ocean users and marine life. It is hoped that these recommendations do not just become another parliamentary process lost in the system.
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