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Byron Shire
October 27, 2021

Calls to remove shark nets from Gold Coast beaches

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Researchers are watching our shorelines get harder and simpler.

‘NETS OUT NOW’ is the message being sent to the Queensland government over shark nets on the Gold Coast. Photo supplied.

Have you seen the majestic whales moving up the coast, and getting caught in shark nets, recently? It is the annual whale migration and marine scientists and campaigners, and local surf shops come together this morning to spell the words ‘NETS OUT NOW’ on the beach at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.

Over the last month there have been multiple whale entanglements in the shark nets off Gold Coast beaches. This includes the freeing of a baby humpback whale at the end of May by local diver, Django Hopkins, AKA Tinny Man after authorities failed to respond quickly enough. He faced possible combined fines of over $90,000 for his actions. This has been followed by another three whales being caught in nets over three days as reported on 22 June.

Since 2001, 54 humpback whales have been caught in Gold Coast nets. Shark nets are also placed along the Sunshine coast, north of Brisbane.

Dr Leonardo Guida from AMCS and Andre Borell from the Envoy Cull film. Photo supplied.

Following this series of whale entanglements in shark nets off the tourism hotspot, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI) are appealing to the Queensland government to remove the shark control nets and end shark culling.

‘Humpback whale migrations happen like clockwork up and down the east coast of Australia every year. We know that whale entanglements are stressful for these majestic giants, and can be fatal unless they are quickly freed.Yet the nets still remain in place,’ said AMCS scientist Dr Leonardo Guida.

‘Even if whales are successfully released, we can’t be sure of their fate because of the stress they experience. Whales must be allowed to freely migrate through Queensland waters.’

Government fails to follow own report

Last year Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) Fifth Annual Coast Safe Report 2019 identified drone surveillance and SMART drumlines as suitable alternatives for nets at southern Queensland beaches.

In March, the Queensland government’s Scientific Working Group for shark control recommended the shark nets should be removed during whale migration. But the nets remain in place and four whales have been entangled already this season, including a mother and its calf.

‘The Queensland government should act on the recommendations of its scientific working group immediately before any more whales are trapped,’ said HSI marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck.

‘Human safety is paramount and there are a number of more effective, non-lethal alternative shark mitigation strategies available instead of shark nets. Nets are ineffective at keeping bathers safe but are really good at catching and drowning iconic and harmless wildlife like turtles, dolphins and endangered hammerhead sharks.

‘Drones, non-lethal SMART drumlines and better education could instead be employed to protect swimmers. Drones have the added benefit of helping lifesavers prevent drownings, of which 21 were fatal last year on Queensland beaches. These measures are readily available and do not take a toll on marine wildlife.’


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  1. The recent release of the mother and calf was a failure as the calf was freed but is still draging a lenght of shark net and will die. These clowns responsible for opperating these inhumane ignorant and ineffective attempts to mollify those who are keen to surf, but too gutless to actually confront the natural world, should be held accountable for their incompetence and inability to protect endangered species.
    The very idea of trapping and killing wildlife in the name of entertainment or tourism is just plain evil.
    Cheers , G”)

  2. How many more whales and marine life need to tangle and die in these ineffective shark nets before they get pulled up?. I say Boycott Qld tourism and instead visit and spend your money and go whale watching in areas like Byron Bay who refuse to buy into the fear campaign around sharks and they use more effective shark monitoring equipment like drones and sonar listening stations to avoid an unwanted shark encounter. Let the QLD tourism sector lobby on our behalf because clearly the QLD gov is not listening to science and are happy to keep senselessly killing marine life.

  3. SHARK NETS GOTTA GO…..we have phoned the Minister in Qld just yesterday and actually a real person answered.Put our objections forward & re iterated that they have had plenty time to ban these death traps.THEY DO NOT PROTECT SWIMMERS AND DO KILL LOTS OF OTHER WILDLIFE.Don’t care if these marine animals are ‘endangered’ or not ALL marine life needs to protected from these damn nets. Soooooo appalling that a Labor Govt can’t get this right & remove the bloody things at LEAST during the 2 annual whale migration seasons. KEEP PHONING MIN FURNER EVERYONE AND KEEP EMAILING ETC Our marine creatures obviously need us all to keep lobbying.

  4. Shark nets save life’s, simple as. Plenty of oceans for them to roam in. So many attacks lately it is insane and to suggest that a child’s life simply a collateral because they are in their territory is so wrong. Without swimmable beaches Australia would be empty, np tourist, no locals.THAT IS A REALITY, yes look after wild life but we need to find a way to live together and if it is nets so be it.

    • They actually don’t save lives. the shark encounters have occured where nets have been in place. Nets don’t continue for the full length of the coast or beaches. They are a few meters long placed meters apart. Sharks can and do actually swim around them. Sometimes they are caught because they are drawn to the other marine life which end up stuck and die. They are drawn to our beaches as these dead turtles, dolphins, rays and large fish are stuck dying and decaying. So really they are acting as burly. There are better ways to deter sharks. Also, it’s their home, not ours so it really is pretty horrible to want to kill them all for being in their home doing what they do.


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