Local activists have swum under the newly-installed shark nets at Lennox Head to draw attention to the apparent ‘futility’ of the devices.
Dean Jeffreys led a small group of banner-bearing conservationists out to the nets on November 25, diving about 10 metres down to duck beneath them.
‘If humans can do it sharks can too,’ said Mr Jeffrey’s, the captain of the well-known conservation vessel, Migaloo 2.
‘We swam under the shark nets … to dispel the fallacy that shark nets make you safe.
‘It’s time for more effective non lethal alternatives to be implemented. We also had a drone up to film and observe any shark activity which is what every surf club in Australia should be doing and be funded for, rather than DPI [the NSW Department of Primary Industries] wasting money perpetuating the shark net lie.’
The nets were installed on November 23 at five beaches in Lennox Head, Evans Head and Ballina as part of a trial being run by the NSW government.
Each net is approximately 150 metres long and six metres high, which leaves large gaps that activists believe sharks can easily swim through.
The oppose the trial, now in its second year, because of the many non-target animals such as rays, turtles and dolphins which are caught.
Of the 275 animals caught during last year’s trial, just nine were target sharks.
More than half of the other animals that were caught in the nets could not be freed.
The Department of Primary Industries has made a number of changes to the nets this year in a bid to reduce the amount of bycatch, including changing the size of the netting used and placing the nets higher in the water.
A survey conducted in the towns where the nets have been deployed found that a significant proportion of the local community are in favour the use of the nets.
Supporters often point to the fact that there has only been one fatality at a netted beach anywhere in Australia since they were first introduced more than 90 years ago.