Ballina’s Deputy Mayor, Keith Williams, is urging residents to complete the NSW DPI on-line Survey on Shark Nets before it closes this afternoon, warning that this will be the community’s last opportunity to have a say before the Minister decides the fate of future net trials.
Cr Williams said the data released in the community survey shows as twice as many dolphins killed in the nets as target species sharks (2), in addition to numerous turtles, Manta rays and other species.
‘Over the two trials we have now killed a total of eight dolphins. Our local Richmond River pod was only 60 animals when we started. That’s 10 per cent gone in a little over a year, we have officially decimated that population.’
The nets have decimated local marine life, killing 193 marine animals including dolphins, seven turtles, and 105 rays said Jordan Sosnowski, advocacy director of Action for Dolphins.
‘The trials in Ballina have shown these death nets are not effective at protecting swimmers from shark attacks,’ said Ms Sosnowski.
‘There are almost 50 kilometres of beaches and just five nets in place, so the nets will never work to enclose and protect people from sharks. All they do is act as massive fishing nets, drowning threatened and endangered marine life.’
In the community survey after the first shark net trial support for shark nets by Ballina residents fell from 52 per cent to 33 per cent, and 68 per cent of residents said the by-catch rate was unacceptable.
While NSW DPI made changes to the nets to reduce total by-catch, the by-catch rate actually worsened from 97 per cent to 98.5 per cent compared to the first trial, said Cr Williams.
‘When only two of 143 animals caught in the nets are target species you have to admit this isn’t working and say enough is enough,’ said Cr Williams.
Ms Sosnowski from Action for Dolphins highlighted that ‘There are so many non-lethal methods for shark mitigation that better protect people and also keep marine life safe.’
‘Shark spotter programs, aerial and drone surveillance, and individual shark repellents are just some of the more humane options we should be using in place of nets.’
The link to the survey is available on the NSW DPI Website https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/sharks/management/shark-net-trial
The survey closes 5pm today.