Shark nets will again be ‘trialled’ at five north coast beaches this coming summer despite their largely ineffectual impact on the predators last season and widespread community concern about so-called ‘bycatch’.
NSW DPI announced today that the trial would resume despite their own admission that just nine of the 275 animals caught in the nets last season were actually dangerous sharks: three Whites, three Tigers and three Bull sharks.
Five were caught at Sharpes Beach, two at Lennox Head and two at Lighthouse Beach.
The remaining 266 animals caught comprised at least 18 species including:one Grey Nurse Shark, four Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, eight Loggerhead Turtles and three Green Turtles.
Six of the Loggerhead Turtles were released alive but statistics for the rest of the bycatch were less impressive, with 53 per cent being killed by the nets.
Drumlines more effective
By comparison, 36 target sharks were caught by the much superior SMART drumlines, with just three non-target species being hooked.
Some 97 per cent of sharks caught on the drumlines were released alive.
DPI said in its summary of the trial ‘there was no clear trend in the time of day White Sharks were caught on SMART drumlines. However, more sharks were caught between December–January and one–May than February–March.
‘Only 1 White Shark was caught between 19 January and 20 April 2017.
‘Most White Sharks survived immediate catch-and-release. Being hooked in the mouth caused minimal damage and few, if any longerterm effects. Non-target animals caught included 2 Grey Nurse Sharks and 1 Dusky Whaler, which were all released alive,’ according to the department.
Support for the nets declined from 46 per cent before the trial to just 33 per cent afterwards.
Despite the facts, the Murdoch media trumpeted the shark net trial as ‘hugely successful’ and attacked unspecified ‘greenies’ who last year protested [then] NSW Premier Mike Baird when he announced the trial last year.