The data from the final month of the second NSW North Coast shark net trial along with changing community attitudes should finally show the state government that shark nets have no place in NSW, the Humane Society International says.
In the second trial, which began in November last year, only one per cent of the animals caught were target species.
But out of 145 marine animals that were ensnared, 58 were killed, including protected turtles, hammerhead sharks and dolphins.
‘If this doesn’t end shark net trials in NSW then the Government will be deliberately killing harmless and threatened species without any scientific evidence that nets offer protection from risk of shark bite,’ said the society’s Head of Campaigns, Nicola Beynon.
‘Even Don Munro from Le-Ba Boardriders, one of the most vocal original supporters of shark nets, has shifted his position in light of the shocking data,’ she added.
‘We have a responsibility to protect Australia’s threatened species. Since 2016, NSW has experienced 12 shark bites and Western Australia has experienced 11.1 Since 2016, NSW has killed 779 marine animals through lethal shark control and WA has killed one. WA has opted for a non-lethal approach.
‘We must also remember that the marine animals killed in the NSW North Coast net trials are just a portion of the death toll experienced in the overall NSW shark meshing program, which runs from September to April in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
‘The only good outcome of the North Coast net trials would be if they finally put an end to nets in other areas. It should now be very obvious to the public and State Governments that nets are very effective at killing harmless marine wildlife and not effective at anything else,’ Ms Beynon said.
Humane Society International supports a non-lethal approach to shark control. Non-lethal methods such as aerial patrols, drones, personal deterrent devices and shark smart apps informing the community of shark activity are the way forward, the group believes.
‘The onus is on the public to take as much care as possible in the water, by not swimming or surfing alone at dusk or dawn, after big storms, in the vicinity of bait fish or whale carcasses and especially not at unpatrolled beaches.
‘We need better education around sharks and must learn to live with them, as they are essential to healthy oceans and therefore to us,’ Ms Beynon said.