Commentary by Allyson Jennings - NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator:
The first sighting of migrating humpback whales off Fingal Head last weekend has raised concerns regarding the shark nets off Northern New South Wales beaches which have not been removed.
Sea Shepherd spokesperson Allyson Jennings said: “Once the first whales were sighted last year, NSW DPI pulled the nets up early as the first trial was due to end on June 13th. Last weekend, the first whales for this migration season were seen and yet, the shark nets still remain in. Why have the nets not been removed?"
"Is risking the potential entanglement of a protected species NSW Department of Primary Industries’ idea of their trial proceeding “as per the plans to allow the best possible data to inform future use of shark nets in NSW.”?”
“Whales don’t swim in a straight line on the migration path and will seek refuge or rest near coastal areas," Ms Jennings added.
"We see this every year with numerous whales stressed and entangled in the Queensland shark nets which places rescue teams in danger while they work to free the animal. In 2013, a juvenile humpback whale died after becoming entangled in a shark net off Mona Vale Beach in Sydney," Ms Jennings continued.
"Whale tourism also brings employment and financial opportunities to coastal communities; so why is the NSW government choosing to put these animals at risk?" she added.
"Furthermore, the Ballina Shire Mayor has publicly stated that he does not want the nets back in, the high by-catch rate is shown clearly in the data and local community sentiment against the nets continues to build after the first trial. These factors show that there is very little faith in the net’s effectiveness,” Ms Jennings said.
“Sea Shepherd also calls upon the Ballina Shire; Richmond Valley Councils to tell NSW DPI that the nets must be removed now whales have been spotted and never to be put back again. The NSW Government must abandon this trial and implement effective non-lethal measures for ocean user safety and to protect the marine life many people visit the region to see,” Ms Jennings said.
How can you help?
Please contact Ballina Shire Council Mayor David Wright and Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow and tell them to pressure NSW DPI to remove the nets now as humpback whales are now migrating past the North Coast.
Whale tourism brings much needed money to our coastal communities and employment opportunities which is far more important than a failed shark net trial which provides nothing but a false sense of ocean safety and wantonly kills marine life.