Sea Shepherd Australia has presented a thorough submission into the Australian Senate Inquiry regarding shark mitigation and deterrent measures, outlining the various failures of shark nets and drum lines, highlighting the 42 shark encounters at netted beaches in New South Wales and the 17 in Queensland at beaches with shark control equipment.
The submission argues that politicians who refer to a decrease in fatalities since lethal shark control programs were installed, fail to recognise advances in medical equipment and the number of shark bites occurring at beaches with shark nets and drum lines are in place.
The submission further highlights the Federal and State laws that shark control programs are in opposition to, stating that the proposed goal of drum lines and shark nets is harm to the environment and marine biodiversity.
An interesting finding from Sea Shepherd Australia’s submission is the complete lack of information that supports the argument that the tourism industry is affected by shark encounters. By looking at beach attendance and tourism statistics throughout Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Australia as a whole, Sea Shepherd asserts that the empirical data does not support the claim that shark attacks are scaring residents and tourists away from the ocean and that in fact tourism data shows an increase in beach and regional attendance six to 12 months on from a shark encounter.
Prepared by Chief Adviser for Sea Shepherd’s Apex Harmony campaign, Natalie Banks, the submission highlights not only the false sense of security that shark nets and drum lines have, but the devastating impact these lethal measures have on marine life and questions the likely environmental impacts from removing keystone species will have on the marine environment.
“For the past three years, Sea Shepherd Australia has been attempting to highlight the range of alternatives to lethal and traditional shark control methods,” Natalie states.
“We completely support a recent scientific review by Cardno which found a shark spotting program, similar to that currently used in Cape Town, South Africa, should be trailed immediately.”
However no Government to date has trialed a shark spotting program, using land surveillance, educational boards and medical kits at beaches, flags and alarms in Australia, despite the programs 13-year success in South Africa and a beach assessment undertaken by Shark Spotters representatives in March 2016.
“Sea Shepherd Australia was so fed up with the inaction from Government that it joined forces with No Shark Cull Inc. to crowd-fund a trip for two representatives from Shark Spotters, South Africa to not only undertake beach assessments, but to liaise with key stakeholders about their findings and the program in Cape Town,” Natalie said
“Five beaches in South-West WA, three in the Gold Coast, seven in northern New South Wales and two in Sydney all showed promise for the implementation of a shark spotting program when accessed.”
Sea Shepherd Australia has undertaken the unprecedented approach of designing its own shark medical kits, with an instructional video and have issued a handful of these to key personnel, including the Byron Bay Council, where it is now kept at Clarkes Beach permanently at the local café in case of an emergency. The not-for-profit organisation also teamed up with the Byron Bay Council and Greens Member of Parliament, Tamara Smith to undertake a 15-day trial of shark spotting at Wategos Beach.
Sea Shepherd Australia has also been fed up with the media portrayal of sharks and its organisation. “Any shark merely swimming off our coasts is not swimming according to the media, it is a “monster lurking,” the submission states, while also having a swipe at “negative, sensationalised and fear-inciting reports such as those in the Daily Telegraph.” The Daily Telegraph was forced to remove online articles entitled “Shark Wits” which aimed to discredit Sea Shepherd Australia, while also retracting the article and making a public apology.
Sea Shepherd is firmly of the view that media hysteria by some media outlets with a driving agenda to kill sharks is causing massive pressure on politicians that leads to bad shark mitigation policies that are not helpful to public safety at all.
Senate Inquiry hearings have already taken place in Sydney and Perth with more hearings scheduled in Byron Bay. Sea Shepherd Australia’s submission is one of 64 that will be taken into consideration by the Environment and Communications Committee which is required to report its findings by 30 June 2017. A copy of the report will be published on the Committee's website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_ec.
Report Attachments (PDF)
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