The state government will remove its controversial shark nets from waters off the north coast following the six-month trial that ends in June.
They will be offset by an increase in the number of SMART drum lines, which have proven more successful..
The move comes as whales return to our waters on their migration to the tropics.
While there have been no human fatalities on north coast beaches since the trial began in December last year, other species have not fared so well.
An endangered turtle, dolphins and stingrays have been killed as part of the net trial.
Even the minister has been forced to admit the nets have effectively been a failure.
In six months just six target sharks – including two white, one bull and three tiger sharks – have been caught in five nets across Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair admitted on Tuesday.
However, the nets caught 244 non-target animals with less than half released alive, according to the NSW Greens.
Some 127 marine creatures were killed including an endangered Green turtle, rays and a white spotted guitarfish.
‘The results make a compelling case for the government to end the shark net trial early,’ Greens marine environment spokesman Justin Field said in a statement.
Some 29 target sharks were caught by SMART drumlines on the north coast during the same trial period with only one dying, Mr Blair said on Tuesday, prompting the Greens to demand the government choose drumlines over nets on NSW beaches.
‘The evidence is in – shark nets are little more than floating death traps for all marine life while SMART drumlines appear to be an effective means of catching target sharks,’ Mr Field said.
‘Sharks caught on SMART drumlines are tagged and contribute to our understanding of shark behaviours and almost all have been removed from the inshore zone and released alive.’
The trial of nets has also been savaged by the Humane Society International Australia which is calling for the end of the ‘lethal’ program.
Campaigner Nicola Beynon argues ‘culls through shark nets and drum lines don’t make our beaches safer’.
Ms Beynon also raised concerns about whale migrations with reports humpbacks are already moving northward to warmer waters.
‘Before any whales get added to the list of marine deaths the nets should be removed to allow for their safe passage,’ she said in a statement.
The data from the trial will be analysed by Department of Primary Industries’ shark scientists and community consultation will be held to discuss the outcomes of the trial, Mr Blair insists.
‘When the nets are removed, we will increase the number of SMART drumlines to 35 (from 25) – this will also be the most effective measure as the whale migration period begins on the north coast,’ he said.
– with AAP