The second trial of shark nets on North Coast beaches has resulted in a ‘slaughter’ of non-target species and should be abandoned, according to Ballina’s deputy mayor Keith Williams.
Cr Williams said a Department of Primary Industries report on the first trial shows that only 9 of the 300 animals caught were target shark species.
He said the most recent DPI data showed that the by-catch in the second trial had worsened, with just one target shark caught among 55 other animals in the first month of the second trial.
‘Although some modifications have been made to the nets, it is clear that these changes are not working. Despite this, DPI refused to consider ending the trial stating there was not yet enough data,’ he said.
“This is not science. This is slaughter. Science would at least require animal ethics approval and this project has none.”
Cr Williamssaid a briefing provided to Ballina councillors by DPI yesterday highlighted the value of drones, ‘tagging’ research and SMART drumlines, but failed to provide a rationale for continuing the shark net program.
He said staff saying that proceeding with a second trial of shark nets “was a decision of the Minister”, did nothing to allay concerns that it was little more than a cynical political exercise designed to firm up the ‘anti-green’ vote in Ballina prior to the next state election.
No consultation with Ballina Shire Council was undertaken before the second trial was announced.
‘The briefing provided no reassurance that DPI has any effective strategies to reduce the catch of non-target species such as dolphins, turtles and rays in the nets”, he said.
‘The DPI also failed to present any data to demonstrate that the nets are actually effective at reducing human-shark incidents. In contrast, evidence presented to the Senate Shark Mitigation Inquiry last year showed there was no statistical difference in the rate of shark incidents between netted and non-netted beaches.’
Cr Williams also noted that the most recent shark incident in NSW occurred at a netted beach at Avoca on the Central Coast last November.
‘Drones such as the Little Ripper, which affected the first ever drone surf rescue just over week ago, offer better protection and when combined with SMART drumlines are far more effective at keeping sharks away from beach users.’
‘I have no confidence DPI can reduce shark net by-catch to an acceptable level. They must abandon this second trial and instead focus on the strategies that work.’