North Coast shark net trial fail: More threatened species caught than sharks, nets not checked as required

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Justin Field

The fourth monthly report of the NSW North Coast Shark Mesh Net Trial has shown the five nets across the NSW North Coast only caught one target species shark in a month where the nets were as often out of the water as deployed.

An analysis by NSW Greens MP of the Shark Net Trial date from 8 December 2016 to 7 April 2017 shows:

* 6 target shark species (White, Tiger and Bull Sharks) killed or caught over the four months.

* 28 non-target sharks killed or caught, including 18 endangered hammerhead sharks wiped out.

* 52 non-target, harmless marine animals killed in the nets.

* 99 non-target, harmless marine animals caught (not killed)  in the nets.

NSW Greens MP and Marine Environment spokesperson Justin Field said the data confirmed the shark nets trial has failed and the nets had become little more than death traps for marine life off the North Coast.

"The NSW Government pushed ahead with its decision to use shark nets on the North Coast despite the lack of evidence they were an effective means of mitigating shark bites and known risks to local marine life - now the data is in and the trial has failed," he said.

"The North Coast shark nets have killed dolphins, turtles, rays and other marine species that don't pose a risk to swimmers or surfers along the coast.

"The Government is also failing to ensure contractors are inspecting the nets as required with checking rates falling to well below the minimum once a day standard.

"The NSW Government can do better than providing the North Coast with a shark net mesh program that provides a false sense of security for surfers and swimmers but has a huge impact on our wildlife and budget.

"Serious questions have also been raised over why Department of Primary Industries failed to provide evidence at the recent Senate Inquiry into Shark Mitigation and Deterrent Measures, despite being twice invited and the Government continuing to describe NSW shark mitigation measures as being 'world leading'. A reasonable assumption would be that despite DPI's best efforts, the Government's shark net approach itself is flawed and would not withstand public scrutiny.

"The only reasonable response to the latest statistics is to haul up the nets and put in place non-lethal technologies such as community observer programs, better resourcing lifeguards and personal deterrent devices," he said.

DPI Shark Net Trial data here

Full copy of The Green non-lethal approach to shark management here