Open season on innocent marine life as shark nets return to NSW waters today against scientific advice

Friday, 01 Sep, 2023

Today, the Minns Government is ignoring the advice of independent scientific committees, scientists, the pleas of Coastal Councils and the call from a cross-party of MPs by redeploying 51 shark nets between Wollongong and Newcastle until April next year.

Sea Shepherd Australia and Action for Dolphins are calling on the Minns Government to announce a retirement plan to permanently remove ineffective shark nets and rely on the scientifically supported shark management measures already used widely and effectively across NSW.

Devil ray caught in NSW shark net

“The two scientific committees that oversee the use of shark nets in NSW have called for these destructive and ineffective nets to be removed as the technology currently available in NSW is more effective at minimising the risk of a shark bite. Premier Minns claimed last week that the myriad of modern shark management technologies already used in NSW were yet to be supported by sufficient data to replace shark nets. The Minns government says it wants scientific advice to dictate the use of shark management in NSW. It’s time for the Minns Government to listen to their scientific advisors which have clearly called for these nets to be replaced immediately.”

Lauren Sandeman, Threatened Species Campaigner Sea Shepherd Australia

Action for Dolphins’ CEO Hannah Tait says, “The Minns Government is already using modern shark management measures widely and effectively across NSW. To say that there needs to be more time to trial these measures is illogical - especially because shark nets have been proven to be redundant in protecting people from shark bites. It is dangerous, as it perpetuates the myth that shark nets are an effective shark management measure.”

Ms Tait says, “Relying on a shark net to mitigate a shark bite is as effective as placing a tissue on your head and hoping it will protect you in a hailstorm.”

Hawksbill turtle in NSW shark net

An effective shark management program includes a combination of drone surveillance, a network of shark tagging and listening stations, surf life patrol and community education about ocean safety. Years upon years of research and millions of dollars has been spent on establishing effective technology at beaches in NSW today, technology like drone surveillance which also helps to prevent more serious risks like drowning. Fortunately, all of these measures have been widely implemented. For too long politicians and media have ignored the real heroes of shark bite mitigation - our surf life savers.”

Lauren Sandeman, Threatened Species Campaigner Sea Shepherd Australia

Reflecting on the destruction caused by shark nets last season, Action for Dolphins’ CEO Hannah Tait says, “A massive 89% of marine animals caught in NSW’s shark nets last season were innocent victims such as dolphins, turtles, rays and protected sharks.”

Blacktop shark caught in NSW shark net

“Not a single target shark was caught in shark nets across all of Sydney last year - the one thing these nets are intended to do. They’re even putting a shark net back in at Garie Beach, which has been closed to the public for nearly two years because the only accessible road is severely damaged. What’s the rationale for killing sharks and other marine life at a beach people can’t even get to?” “This is an open season on all of the animals that have been caught and killed in this destructive program in a lose-lose for both our marine life and the public.”

Lauren Sandeman, Threatened Species Campaigner Sea Shepherd Australia

To find out more about our Shark Defence Campaign, and ways you can support, click here.

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