Concerns have been raised about using so-called ‘smart drumlines’ in north coast waters, especially in the Cape Byron Marine Park.
Both the No Shark Cull and Humane Society International have welcomed the NSW Government’s pledge to spend $16 million on strategies to prevent shark attacks, but have expressed concerns about the drumlines.
The government announced extensive trials of non-lethal technology to mitigate shark bite, including plastic barriers, sonar detection systems, drone technology, aerial patrol services and improvements in professional lifeguard and Surf Life Saving services.
The government will also extend its existing shark smart education program.
No Shark Cull chairperson Sharnie Connell said her group was disappointed to hear NSW Department of Primary Industry officers reporting in the media that the tagging and tracking program may be conducted using so called ‘smart drumlines.
‘Smart drumlines will injure and kill many animals including dolphins, turtles and rays,’ she said.
‘Hammerhead sharks have a survival rate of only 50 per cent when caught with this method, two species of hammerhead are listed as vulnerable on the ICUN redlist and are already one of the most caught non-target shark species caught in the shark meshing program.
‘The survival rates of protected white sharks on these drum lines is unknown.
‘The stress the animals endure whilst they are attached to the hook awaiting the contractor to travel out to tag and release the animal is often lethal.
‘There is also likely to be impacts on critically endangered grey nurse shark populations on smart drumlines.
‘Critical habitat for grey nurse sharks occurs in known aggregation sites at Byron Bay and South West Rocks.
‘There only being an estimated 1365 grey nurse sharks left on the east coast, the consequences of losing any individuals to mortality from drum lines is high.
‘Furthermore the placement of any devices that will cause harm to marine life within the Cape Byron Marine Park is of concern. ‘
Meanwhile, Humane Society International spokesperson Jessica Morris also expressed concerns about the possible use of drumlines.
‘The smart drumline is essentially the same as the drumlines we have seen operating in Western Australia and those that are currently a part of the Queensland shark control program,’ she said.
‘As most people will be aware, no white sharks were captured on drumlines in Western Australia, and drumlines within the Gold Coast area capture more marine turtles than white sharks.
‘HSI commends the government’s strategy to use sonar buoys, eco-barriers and aerial surveillance as these have little or no ecological footprint and are a highly effective way of managing risk for surfers and other ocean-users and therefore we see no need for the addition of potentially lethal smart drumlines.’