The NSW Government recently announced a world first $16 million shark strategy which will see the trial this summer of several new technologies such as barrier nets, in-water sonar buoys and increased aerial surveillance at several locations along the NSW coast. Additionally, there will be further scientific research, expansion of current tagging programs plus further public education.
NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator Allyson Jennings commends Premier Mike Baird and NSW DPI Minister Niall Blair for taking a proactive and considered approach.
"This is a monumental announcement by the government. It is unprecedented and while the current Shark Meshing Program is still in place, this is a major step in the right direction to towards public safety and protecting marine life while minimising human-shark interactions. Sea Shepherd looks forward to working further with the government on this issue into the future," Allyson said.
The NSW Government has also initiated a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Management of Sharks. Sea Shepherd Australia has made its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Management of Sharks in New South Wales Waters and has taken the opportunity to highlight the issues of the Shark Meshing Program currently in place at 51 beaches within the State.
The submission highlights how the New South Wales Government’s justifications for the meshing program lacks credibility, and that, despite it being one of the main reasons for the program, there is no evidence of large sharks establishing territories adjacent to metropolitan swimming beaches.
The submission further goes into great detail how there is no credible evidence of shark attacks causing harm to the State’s tourism industry, citing multiple examples of where beach attendance, visitors to a region, and visitor tourism spend has increased at areas where shark encounters have taken place.
Sea Shepherd also points to various environmental and conservation Acts as reasons for why non-lethal measures should be used to protect ocean users instead of programs that kill marine life, and in the case of shark nets, have failed to prevent 40 unwanted shark encounters at New South Wales meshed beaches.
“In line with the New South Wales Protection of the Environment Administration Act, the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations,” National Shark Campaign Coordinator, Natalie Banks said.
“Lethal shark measures are completely at odds with quite a number of NSW laws including the Fisheries Management Act, Threatened Species Act and the Wilderness Act, whereby conservation of the natural environment are viewed as paramount” Ms Banks said.
The submission leaves no stone unturned when it comes to highlighting the inadequacies of the Department of Industries’ ability to manage the program, highlighting 21 particular issues that have been highlighted by the Fisheries Scientific Committee and the New South Wales Scientific Committee which have been ignored. Sea Shepherd even highlights how figures within the Annual Reports regarding catch data are incorrect and don’t even tally up.
Overall, the submission is quite scathing of the current program and highlights the importance of sharks and why non-lethal measures such as the Shark Spotters Program currently in place in Cape Town, South Africa should be considered instead.
“New South Wales Premier William McKell in 1946 even stated that shark nets would lull the public into a false sense of security,” Ms Banks said.
“Its time that Australia embraced modern day non-lethal alternatives in a bid to save lives.”
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