Local Greens MP Tamara Smith and animal rights activists have welcomed the early end to the North Coast shark nets trial and urged the State Government not to reinstate the controversial strategy.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair announced on Wednesday that the nets would begin coming out immediately owing to the early start of the whale migration season in the region.
The migration officially started on May 1, a month earlier than last year.
Ms Smith said on Thursday that the cessation of the trial should be permanent, and that other measures should be used to enhance community safety.
‘There is no scientific evidence and little community support for putting shark nets back in the waters off the North Coast,’ Ms Smith said in a press release.
‘The data from the North Coast Shark Net Trial is yet more evidence that the shark netting program in NSW does little to keep people safe in the water but takes a terrible toll on local marine life.
‘I support shark spotting by trained personnel such as Shark Watch volunteers or Surf Life Savers, using binoculars and drones.’
According to departmental statistics from the trial, just two of the 132 marine creatures caught in the nets between November 23, 2017 and March 31 this year was a target shark.
Among the other animals caught were a small number of threatened species, including Green Turtles and Great Hammerhead sharks, as well as 23 rays.
Forty-nine of the animals caught in the nets were killed.
Humane Society International’s Marine Scientist, Jessica Morris, said that the nets did nothing but ‘provide false peace of mind to ocean users, at the expense of our threatened and protected marine animals.’
‘Humane Society International is calling on both NSW and QLD to move to exclusively non-lethal strategies for shark mitigation and deterrents,’ Ms Morris said in a press release.
‘We cannot keep losing critically endangered species like the grey nurse sharks to outdated and ineffective net technology especially when there are useful and practical options that could replace the destructive nets.’
Mr Nial has given no indication that the government will put a permanent end to the trial.
He said another survey would be undertaken in the coming weeks to gauge the opinions of the local community.