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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Govt ‘abandoning rays to die’ in shark nets

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A ray found by Sea Shepherd volunteers trapped in a Ballina shark net on Sunday (January 7, 2018). Photo Sea Shepherd Australia

Sea Shepherd has accused the NSW Government of deliberately abandoning rays trapped in Ballina shark nets to die after it was refused permission to rescue two animals yesterday.

The organisation says that despite being told of two rays trapped in nets off Ballina beaches on Sunday (January 7), DPI Fisheries would neither authorise Sea Shepherd divers to disentangle them or send a contractor to their rescue.

When the group’s volunteers inspected the shark nets off Ballina yesterday they found an eagle ray entangled and struggling in the Sharpes Beach net and also a manta ray, dead on the sea floor adjacent to the net.

Another eagle ray was found fighting for life in the net off Lighthouse Beach.

But after speaking to the local authorities the Sea Shepherd crew say they were told that the animal would be left to die. Neither the contractor nor Fisheries would release the rays.

‘This is yet another example of how NSW shark nets are indiscriminate killers decimating our marine wildlife. It’s not the first non-target animal we have found, but despite being notified, Fisheries have said they won’t release these animals and instead leave them to die,’ said Sea Shepherd spokesperson, Jonathan Clark.

10 animals entangled

He added the group had run its boat boat Grey Nurse out to the Ballina nets 10 times since December and had found 10 animals entangled – none of them the target shark species.

‘Our crews have consisted of several volunteers from the local community and are bringing some transparency to the destruction caused by these nets,’ Mr Clark said.

‘This net trial is not a shark bite mitigation method that is bringing safety to locals and tourists. Sea Shepherd cares very much about human safety and these nets do not provide that. They provide a false sense of safety whilst killing precious marine animals.’

‘Sea Shepherd is told to not interfere with the shark nets or volunteers face heavy fines and charges, even if it means merely freeing non-target species, such as rays and endangered turtles.’

But he said the government was not responding within its mandatory response times to release marine animals ‘from these indiscriminate killing devices off our coasts.’

Has asked why, ‘if [the government] will not release these animals alive, then why can’t we?’

False sense of security

Sea Shepherd Australia MD Jeff Hansen said the group was ‘committed to providing transparency where there is none with the shark nets and drum lines off Ballina and the east coast of Australia.’

‘Sea Shepherd is highlighting that these 1930s solutions are nothing more than a false sense of security [while] wiping out tens of thousands of marine animals over the years.’

Mr Hansen said that Sea Shepherd’s position was backed by the recent Senate enquiry into shark mitigation,‘which highlights that in 2018 we don’t have to choose between human safety and protecting our marine life.’

‘We can do both with modern day alternatives. Governments are failing with public safety if they continue to back shark nets and drum lines,’ Mr Hansen said.

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  1. After reading the recent ABC article stating that far more people die from ladders than sharks, I suggest the Government immediately establishes ‘ladder nets’ at Bunnings and all other hardware outlets !

  2. I thought these nets had snag detectors and someone on standby 24/7, if not, why not?

    They should be charged with animal cruelty for willfully neglecting animals they know are snagged and intentionally left to die slow and painful deaths. It is no different than leaving a dog in a hot car.

    Plus, the carrion attracts sharks!
    It’s bonkers!

    Drones, tagging, personal shark repellent frequency emitters, white and black bands on rashies and boards, all far more effective and humane than nets.

    A bycatch of 275 to catch 9 target species sharks? I’d call that a disgusting shameful failure!

  3. Yet another example of “our” government destroying OUR environment. Regardless of whether it’s a Coalition or Labor regime the wanton destruction of all living things, the poisoning of all the necessities of life, the oppression of civil society and the alienation of the bulk of humanity continues apace.
    From CSG to clearfell logging; from total support for coalmines to defunding NGOs; from corrupt planning laws to imposing unwanted “infrastructure” against our will; we must now admit that Australia has become a dictatorship for the benefit of only the filthy rich and their lickspittles.
    Stop voting the bastards in before it is too late. Stand up for yourself, Australia.

    • Glen, I hope you are being sarcastic. Just because humans feel entitled to go for a swlm or surf whenever and wherever they choose gives no right to decide that marine species are ‘expendable / collateral damage’. The ocean is the home for marine creatures. Where are they supposed to go when a surfer dude wants to hit the water. If you are afraid f being nibbled by a Shark etc then do not into the ocean. Otherwise it is an informed decision that there is a risk, a very small risk at that, when entering the ocean.

  4. Isn’t the ‘contractor’ obliged to inspect the nets within a certain time period ?
    That was the BS that was touted at the time of instigating this barbaric regime of mindless violence.

  5. What do they want ? A sign saying KEEP OUT. Plenty of fish in the sea. We cut down most of the forest on the planet thus culling the animal population. We just want a safe ocean for swimmers. Before we fill it up with Garbage. Greenies get back up the last of the tree’s while you still have some.

  6. What a disgrace that volunteers cannot go out and rescue these sea creatures from the shark nets and the fisheries will not come out in time to save them. I really cannot understand the government at all, the world is losing enough animals on the land and it looks like the same is happening in the ocean.


  8. Wrong design of net and wrong sort of people managing aquatic life .
    You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the problem and fix what protects both creatures of the seas as well as humans interaction

    • Well said Neville you zeroed in on the crux of the matter. POLICY. Too late now the damage is done. There are soo many Humans dead by GWS since the 1992′ Rio Earth Summit with hundreds of us wounded or missing. HUNDREDS of Humans. Sharks eat billions of these rays every day. Its a NON event.

  9. It is a disgrace, and an example of Poor governmental management that a system does not exist that requires and allows for the rapid release of non target species. To make matters worst and the hilight further the incompetence of the DPI, a private citizen acting based on compassion cannot release animals in distress under threat of legal action. The government needs to start to govern based on the people’s wishes, the people that elected the government ministers to govern on their behalf.

  10. Agree with Noah,

    Sea Shepherd get on with it, you have the law and the Courts and the public on your side,

    Free the ‘by catch’ its ridiculous that these ‘officials’ can break the law yet try stop others from doing
    the right thing,

    The DPI guys are really full of themselves, so get with it and do something

  11. New design from South Africa looks like a kelp forest, let’s animals through but the sharks won’t go into it. Check it out, seems a good solution.


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