NSW should reject QLD Premier's offer of the false sense of security provided by indiscriminate lethal shark control measures.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday offered a helping hand to NSW Premier Mike Baird with setting up a lethal and environmentally destructive system for nets and drum lines to cull sharks in northern NSW. Ms Palaszczuk said, “We have the technology, we have the skills. I am prepared to work with the NSW Government to extend our drum lines and shark nets down the northern NSW beaches.”
Sea Shepherd Australia’s Queensland Apex Harmony Coordinator, Jonathan Clark called on Premier Baird to reject the offer as the deadly drum lines are not proven effective in increasing beach safety and are highly destructive to marine environments. He said, “There are several effective non-lethal methods that ought to be seriously trialled including Shark Spotters as indicated by Premier Baird’s own government’s CARDNO review.”
Since 1962, Queensland’s Shark Control Program has trapped more than 85 000 marine creatures. This number includes only a handful of target species, with more than a third being turtles, rays, dugongs, dolphins and whales. Since July this year, equipment off the Gold and Sunshine Coast beaches have already caught at least 10 migrating humpback whales.
Mr Clark said “Sea Shepherd is disappointed as we thought that a Labor Government would have shown more compassion and sense towards the environment than the previous Newman LNP Government. That science should have trumped emotive responses to the serious issue of mitigating shark bite incidents. We call on the premiers to take a measured, scientific and logical response to shark-bite mitigation issues.”
Sea Shepherd Australia advocates a range of non-lethal shark bite mitigation methods including Shark Spotters, a system developed in Cape Town, South Africa, which Sea Shepherd trialled in a feasibility study last month at Wategos Beach, Byron Bay, supported by the Byron Bay Council and NSW Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith. The developing Shark Watch NSW based at Ballina also looks promising and is using a system based on human and drone surveillance.
Sea Shepherd Australia has also championed their Acute Shark Attack Pack (ASAP) designed as a first response and able to be deployed permanently to even remote locations. Given that the many of shark fatality related bites are due to blood loss, time is a critical factor in saving lives and a shark response pack with a tourniquet either on the beach or in surfers cars can and will save lives.
We can not protect every person on every beach around Australia’s vast coastline, but we can do more to mitigate the risk and be better prepared if an incident occurs in saving lives, as nets and drum lines are merely a proven false sense of security as acknowledged even by former Premier William McKell of NSW.
Mr Clark said, “The Queensland Premier’s assertion that Queensland Shark Control Program technology should be deployed in NSW could ultimately result in destruction of marine environments without being effective in reducing shark bites on people. It is 1960s technology that was deployed after shark bite fatalities had already declined markedly in the 1950s. Shark nets are largely ineffective in preventing human-shark interactions and in no way form any kind of barrier. They are merely a false sense of security that wipe out countless marine species”
In terms of the baited drum lines approach, Mr Clark questioned, “Can anyone seriously see the sense of placing baited hooks designed to attract and catch sharks within metres of places people are encouraged to swim and surf?”
“Ms Palaszczuk’s belief in the skills of those implementing the Queensland Shark Control Program are in serious question given the ongoing investigations into alleged illegal activities of at least one program contractor,” added Mr Clark.
Mr Clark said, “Sea Shepherd Australia calls on the Queensland Government to rather than expand the shark control program in its current form to seriously assess its effectiveness through independent scientific evaluation and implement the appropriate non-lethal technologies and methods, that can see beach safety increase for people at them same time as preserve and protect our highly valuable marine life and ecosystems.”
Mr Clark said that, “Sea Shepherd Australia’s position is that the data does not demonstrate that the Queensland Shark Control Program saves lives and conversely very clearly demonstrates extraordinary damage to wildlife and the environment. Constant media references to the fact that there have been very few human deaths since the implementation of drum lines and nets, does not tell the whole story. To advocate this system be implemented in northern NSW beaches is based on flawed ideas about its effectiveness and dismisses its serious limitations.”
ABC News: Ballina shark attack: NSW Government committed millions to barriers not delivered. - Scroll down for section “Queensland Premier offers to build shark nets”.
The Conversation: Has Queensland really saved lives by killing thousands of sharks? - A discussion of the rarity of shark bite incidents and how they were in steep decline before the implementation of the QSCP.
Sea Shepherd: Proof that New South Wales nets only provide a false sense of security - A discussion revealing that the QSCP has captured, by now, more than 85 000 marine animals – one third of which were not sharks.
Sea Shepherd: Acute Shark Attack Pack for Wategos Beach - Example of Sea Shepherd’s excellent work in introducing effective responses to shark bite incidents.
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