Members of Northern NSW and Qld marine conservation groups will converge on the Quicksilver Pro Surfing competition at Coolangatta today (Wednesday, March 14) at midday Qld time.
The group will hold up banners asking for the removal of Shark Nets and to spread awareness on non lethal and more effective alternatives.
Co-ordinator of the protest, Dean Jefferys, from the Migaloo 2 marine conservation Foundation said ‘The Quicksilver Pro Surfing competition is the obvious place to hold a shark net protest as many surfers are concerned both about being safe while surfing and also wanting to live in harmony with other marine creatures. Snapper Rocks is flanked by a string of shark nets that have killed hundreds of marine creatures since their placement.
Jefferys said, surfers were ‘being called to be the guardians of the ocean and its creatures’.
It’s hard to understand that there are still some surfers who think that shark nets actually work and justify the deaths of thousands of marine creatures to satisfy their fear of sharks.’
He pointed out that the yellow bouys behind the line up at Snapper Rocks are shark nets that go for around 150 meters along the surface in a straight line and four meters down.
‘Sharks can just swim under or around these nets yet they still manage to catch and kill many dolphins, turtles, rays, whales, and endangered hammer head sharks,’ he said.
‘We want to raise the issue about the ineffectiveness of the current shark net program and offer more effective and non lethal alternatives to help prevent an unwanted shark encounter.
‘Since 1950 there have been more than 16,500 marine creatures killed in these shark nets in NSW and Qld, over 5,000 of them endangered or critically endangered.
‘Shark nets do not offer the safety from sharks they profess and actually may make a shark encounter more likely as they give a false sense of security.’
Mr Jefferys said cheaper and more effective alternative technologies exist ‘that make the public safer without increasing the dangers to other marine life’.
He nominated the Spotters Program, personal repellents, sonar, shark tagging, education and the use of drones for spotting.
‘Drones have recently been deployed by NSW surf life saving clubs with great effect and the Queensland Government should follow and give a drone to every surf club.
‘Drone use would be a lot safer for surfers than shark nets as the drones not only provide real-time observation and warning, they also double as a quick response unit to help prevent drownings by dropping a floatation device from the drone as demonstrated in a successful rescue at Lennox Head a few months ago,’ Mr Jeffereys.