New South Wales Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced a new Shark Management Strategy in the beginning of July that includes an extension of proven successful drone surveillance programs to detect sharks.
The investment in non-lethal shark control has been welcomed by conservation groups Humane Society International (HSI) and Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) but they are disappointed that 51 destructive shark nets remain part of the strategy.
“Modern technologies such as drone surveillance are the cutting edge of non-lethal shark bite mitigation strategies, and we applaud the Government’s commitment to providing NSW with the most effective methods to reduce shark-human interactions,” Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Biologist with Humane Society International said.
Drones will be used at 34 NSW beaches and 35 SMART drumlines deployed along the Northern NSW Coast. However, 51 shark nets will still be set on beaches from Newcastle to Wollongong in the summer.
“Shark nets are 1930s technology which do not effectively protect swimmers and take a terrible toll on marine life—there is no place for nets in modern shark management,” Mr Chlebeck said.
Shark nets do not act as a barrier, they were designed to catch and kill. They are ineffective at protecting swimmers with 33 shark bites having taken place at NSW beaches with nets.
“We are pleased the new strategy increases reliance on the latest non-lethal technologies such as drones and SMART drumlines. This technology has undergone extensive testing and is proving invaluable to beach safety. Community attitudes have changed since the 1930s and shark nets are widely opposed for their unacceptable impact on marine wildlife. We look forward to the NSW government acting on the science and changing values, and removing the nets,” Dr Leonardo Guida, shark scientist from AMCS said.
Shark nets have been used off Sydney beaches since 1937, and every year from 1 September to 30 April indiscriminately catch and kill turtles, dolphins, rays and non-target sharks. Last shark net season (2018-19) saw the catch of 395 animals, 372 (94%) of which were non-target species and 185 were threatened or protected species.
While welcoming progress, HSI and AMCS and our supporters will continue to call for a fully non-lethal shark program in NSW.
Story Source: Australian Marine Conservation Society
Above Image: A baby whale caught in shark nets off Gold Coast in October 2018. The whale was freed from the nets but others have died (Supplied: Humane Society International.)