Ballina Shire Council on May 24 voted 6-4 against a motion put by Deputy Mayor Keith Williams that favoured non-lethal shark mitigation methods over the disastrous shark net trial that has seen at least 417 marine animals caught.
Representing Sea Shepherd Australia, Jonathan Clark, said: “This council non-decision is a hand washing treatment where leadership could have been shown. Public sentiment has turned. Claims of tourism and local business downturns are demonstrably untrue. The data from the shark net trial clearly shows it as a complete failure, that even the most ardent net and cull supporters of the past are turning away from nets.”
Mr Clark added: “Councillor Williams is correct saying that more dolphins were killed than targeted sharks and that the number represents a decimation of the local dolphin population. There were also more turtles killed, more rays killed, and more non-target shark species killed than targeted sharks.”
It is Sea Shepherd’s position that shark nets and drum lines provide only a false sense of security and that there are several non-lethal technologies that can provide actual safety benefits. Mr Clark added: “The money already wasted on shark nets could well have been used to further develop effective shark spotting systems utilising human spotters and drone technologies. Sea Shepherd cares very much about human safety and non-lethal technologies can provide effective safety measures without negative impact on local marine environments.”
Mr Clark said: “That 6 members of the Ballina Council could not understand the disaster that a bycatch rate in excess of 97% is reprehensible, demonstrates their incapacity to make a sensible decision. We remain confident that the forthcoming results of the NSW DPI community survey will demonstrate that most of the local population and visitors understand this.”
Mr Clark said: “Councillor Wright’s retort to a Sea Shepherd volunteer in the council chambers following the vote, ‘Have some respect for the process,’ was in itself disrespectful and unprofessional. Sea Shepherd has respectfully followed careful and legal processes throughout our work bringing transparency to this futile net trial and will continue to do so with the goal of seeing effective non-lethal mitigation methods deployed to enhance ocean safety.”