Media Release Save Our Sharks

North Coast shark nets to go – now let’s pull them down across NSW coast

August 17, 2018

AMCS welcomes the NSW Government’s announcement today that it will remove nets from the NSW North Coast this summer following two net trials.

This is a positive step by the NSW Government, which responded to community sentiment about the toll on local marine wildlife. The DPI surveyed the north coast residents, the majority of which did not support another trial of the shark nets.

Shark nets are effectively fishing nets that are erected along beaches to entangle and drown sharks, but they mostly catch non target species such as dolphins, turtles and rays, many of which are threatened with extinction.

Shark nets were first erected in NSW in the 1930s, but technology and public sentiment have moved on since then. Shark nets are an outdated response to beach safety that has a high burden on our oceans, without actually protecting beach goers. Not only do shark nets and drumlines kill thousands of endangered marine species, they are also ineffective at protecting the public.

Evidence presented at the Senate Shark Mitigation Inquiry in 2017 showed that there is no statistical difference in the rate of shark incidents between netted and net free beaches.

Since 2016, NSW has killed 807 animals in the name of shark control. The recent Shark Meshing Annual Report showed that in the region between Newcastle and Wollongong, 403 marine animals were killed in the last year, including endangered sea turtles, dolphins and threatened sharks.

With shark nets due to go back in the water off Sydney beaches in the spring, it’s time to rethink the whole program and investigate non-lethal alternatives.

The NSW Government is continuing the use of SMART drumlines in the north coast. While these drumlines are not intended to be lethal, AMCS has reservations about their use due to a lack of data on post release mortality for non-target species such as endangered hammerheads and grey nurse sharks.

AMCS supports non lethal options to such as education, drone surveillance and better resourced volunteer and professional life saving services.

As a species group sharks are in global decline, with a third of open water sharks listed as threatened. Sharks are considered ‘keystone species’, which means that as top predators, they are extremely important in maintaining the balance in marine ecosystems.

Media Contact: AMCS Communications Manager, Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731.