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May 11, 2021

Campaigners want drones to protect from sharks

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Dean Jefferys leads a paddle out near Lennox Head recently. (supplied)

Marine conservationists have welcomed a Senate inquiry recommendation to remove shark nets from NSW beaches.

They are also calling for an increased use of drones with alarm systems to provide real-time protection for beach users.

Marine campaigner, Dean Jefferys, who is skipper of the conservation yacht Migaloo 2, said the recommendation to remove nets, when implemented, would mean that thousands of marine creatures, many of them endangered, would not drown in ineffective shark nets.

‘It also means that more effective non lethal shark control measures will be put in place, making the oceans safer for everyone rather than people mistakenly thinking these short, shallow nets provide protection,’ he said.

‘I’m glad this myth has finally been well and truly busted by deep inquiry at the top level.

‘Now it is up to Government to implement these recommendations and put in place real processes that will make people safer and at the same time ensure marine lives are protected.”

“The manipulation of statistics has also been exposed in this enquiry. The old story that the DPI and proponents of shark nets say there has only been one death at a ‘netted’ beach from Newcastle to Wollongong.

‘What they don’t tell you in their reckless and irresponsible use of statistics is that there have been 47 unwanted shark encounters at these ‘netted’ beaches or that surf lifesavers also patrol and observe these beaches and give warnings.

‘The resent shark encounter at ‘shark netted’, Avoca beach in November however could have been avoided if the surf club had a drone in the air as the shark encounter happened right in front of the shark tower but the tower wasn’t high enough to see the shark.

Every surf club in Australia should have a drone fitted with an alarm system, with their nippers getting the appropriate training to use them.

‘Live streaming of the flights could be sent live to the surf life saving websites in NSW and QLD.

‘This is real time protection that works and what the government should be spending its money on and not wasting money perpetuating the shark net fallacy.”

‘In last years north coast shark net 6 month trial, over 140 marine creatures died including many endangered species. There are now many more effective non lethal alternatives to Shark Nets, such as drone surveillance, Tagging, Smart bouys, Shark Shields, Shark Barrier, Spotters, and shark smart awareness programs.

‘One reason we swam under the shark net nets, off Lennox Beach recently, was to show that this is what sharks can do and how ineffective the nets are at keeping sharks away from swimming areas.

‘Shark nets only go down 6 meters and are around 186 meters long, in a straight line. I am a drone operator currently working with “Shark Watch” around the Byron region. ”Shark Watch” is a non lethal example of an effective, real time, community based solution that could be expanded along Australia’s east coast through the Surf clubs or publicly” Dean Jefferys said.

“If the Government refuses to implement these recommendations then a newly formed coalition of marine groups will launch a national and international social media campaign to encourage tourist to avoid ‘Shark netted” beaches and instead visit beaches and shires that respect marine life and genuine safety of the beach goers.”


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