Male Sea LionA Humpback whale swimming freely (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).

After several sightings of protected Humpback whales migrating along the NSW coast over the past two weeks, NSW Department of Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has announced the second North Coast net trial will come to an end.

Sea Shepherd spokesperson Allyson Jennings said: “Sea Shepherd welcomes Minister Blair’s announcement regarding the removal of the North Coast nets.

"Whale tourism brings much needed tourism dollars and employment to NSW coastal communities and the risk to these ocean giants from a government controlled net program are too great. Locals and tourists want to see these animals swimming freely without the risk of entanglement as we see annually with several whales entangled in the nets of the Queensland Shark Control Program," Ms Jennings added. 

"We applaud this proactive decision by the minister and encourage the Queensland Government to follow NSW by removing their nets during whale migration and start trialling non-lethal alternatives.

“Sea Shepherd strongly encourages the minister to thoroughly evaluate the data from these two net trials which overwhelmingly shows how ineffective the nets are for public safety and have caught over 400 animals, 3% of which are target sharks.

"Public confidence in the nets after the first trial fell to 33% which also shows lack of community support in these devices. North Coast communities do not need a third trial, they need effective non-lethal ocean safety solutions and we call upon the NSW Government to make common sense decisions for the benefit of ocean users and the ocean environment. We don’t need to choose between human lives and marine life, we can choose both,” Ms Jennings said.

“We also support the minister’s comment regarding personal safety while using the ocean and encourage all ocean users to take necessary safety precautions and check with local lifesavers regarding conditions before heading out,” Ms Jennings added.

NSW DPI will conduct a phone and online survey during May 9 -18 with local communities regarding the net trial and will also hold a community information stand on Saturday, May 12 at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina between 9am and 1pm.

We encourage members of the public living in the Ballina Shire and Richmond Valley council areas to strongly oppose a third net trial and push for effective non-lethal alternatives such as drones and shark spotting programs.

“Nets are not a barrier, they merely are a false sense of security and they have killed many humpback whales over the years. Nets not only put these magnificent whale lives at risk, they also puts at risk the lives of the people in the dis-entanglement teams, where in the past, tragically, human fatalities have resulted,” stated Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia's Managing Director.

 

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