The annual report shows 375 animals are trapped in shark nets between Newcastle and Wollongong, including some of Australia’s most beloved sea life.
NSW’s annual report on 51 shark nets revealed that less than 11 per cent of animals caught were the targeted species: bull, tiger, and white sharks.
The most common victims were southern eagle rays, smooth hammerheads and bronze whalers.
Though some animals were released alive, the majority were found dead.
Devastatingly, the data showed shark nets between Newcastle and Wollongong cause an average of one turtle death every 20 days.
Of the 18 turtles documented in the recent report, only four were found alive.
That 18 included 1 ridley sea turtle, a species listed as endangered, which died in a net at Bronte Beach.
Shark nets. Unfair to sea life. #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/No2OSXYEzp
— ℝ𝕠𝕕𝕕𝕝𝕖𝕫 🦠😷💉💉😀 (@Roddlez1) July 11, 2021
It is a difficult task for Australian state governments to balance the importance of the public’s safety with minimising harm to marine life.
According to the report, there were no fatal or serious human injuries at the netted beaches in the recorded period.
Speaking with the ABC, director of the documentary Shark Cull, Andre Borell, discussed the shark net debate.
“The position the government has gotten themselves into by running these programs for so long is they’re now obliged to provide a level of safety”, he said.
“I don’t think they can pull this out of the water and walk away.”
“A lot of people think shark nets are a barrier. They’re not — they’re a fishing device“, Borell asserted.
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There are non-lethal alternatives to shark nets.
Drones can be used to surveil beaches, and may be combined with flags and sirens to alert the public.
SMART drumlines are another non-lethal form of surveillance, which use GPS communications to alert operators of a shark’s presence.
Marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck highlighted the need for shark safety equipment to be updated when she spoke to The Guardian:
“The indiscriminate deaths that occur as a result of the outdated Shark Meshing Program in NSW must end…The technology is nearly 100 years old, we would never accept safety technology that old in any other facet of our lives, why should ocean safety be any different?”