A coalition of marine groups are planning an international social media campaign to highlight the deadly impact of shark nets on non-target marine life.
The campaign will encourage locals and overseas tourist to visit and spend their money at non netted beaches.
The skipper of marine conservation yacht, Migaloo 2, Dean Jefferys said the release this week of monthly data from the Department of Primary Industries showed 36 marine creatures where caught in shark nets off Ballina over the month of December.
‘Just under half of them, 16, died, including 2 endangered Great Hammerhead sharks caught in the Lennox Head shark nets. One critically endangered grey nurse shark was also caught in a shark net,’ Mr Jefferys said.
‘In the report the DPI did not say if the sharks were caught on the inside of the nets, (as around half are) yet Sea Shepherd recently said a drone operated by the surf club at Lennox saw a shark on the beach side of the nets.
‘A siren alerted the people of the sharks presence and people were cleared from the water.’
‘This shows once again that nets don’t protect people they just kill endangered marine creatures and it is the non lethal alternative technology like drones and spotting that offer the real protection.’
Humane Society International marine scientist Jessica Morris said the released data showed that the decision by Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and the NSW Government to allow nets on the North Coast was reckless, and was proving to be a huge failure.
‘Just as we feared, the nets have now captured a critically endangered grey nurse shark, more threatened and protected marine turtles, and an array of other harmless sharks and rays,’ Ms Morris said.
‘While the grey nurse shark was released alive from the nets, this species is highly susceptible to post-release mortality due to the stress of such an event.
‘The data shows the North Coast nets caught just one target shark.
‘Last year’s NSW North Coast Shark Net Trial was an utter failure, and after only seven weeks, this year’s trial is a complete disaster.
‘The Federal Environment Minister needs to re-think his decision to allow shark nets and focus on his real job which is to ensure our endangered species are protected.
‘Shark attacks are not the norm – they are traumatic but they are rare, and we need to realise that nets are doing more harm than good.
‘Nets have been proven ineffective in reducing the already low risk of a shark bite. If you look at the data almost two thirds of shark bites occur on beaches WITH nets.
‘It is unfathomable that in 2018 we are killing our protected marine life out of falsehood and fear – it is such a waste.’