Hammerheads, rays and dolphins heavily hit!

Updated catch figures for the New South Wales shark meshing program has shown that 17,131 marine animals have been caught by the program since 1950; the majority being hammerhead sharks and rays.

Sea Shepherd Australia has also been looking at mortality rates of catches within the program and has found of the 4,859 Hammerhead sharks caught in the program and accounting for almost a third of the catch, 97% have died over the past 20 years, as a direct result of being caught in the nets.

The Smooth Hammerhead has particularly been suffering recently as a result of the shark nets, with 147 dying from 149 caught during the past seven years.

Rays followed behind the Hammerheads as the most marine creatures caught within the meshing program, with 3,423 caught, but with a much lower mortality rate.

But what was surprising to Natalie Banks, the National Shark Campaign Coordinator for Sea Shepherd, who has compiled the data, is the number and mortality rate of the dolphins being caught.

“There have been 162 dolphins caught within the shark meshing program since 1950, 159 or 98% of these have died.”

“These marine creatures have died unnecessarily for a program that only provides a false sense of security.”

With 40 unwanted shark encounters occurring at beaches with shark nets, Sea Shepherd has been calling for high successful non-lethal options to be considered instead.

“There are so many options available to us to protect ourselves while recreating in the ocean, and I am urging the New South Government to seriously consider the Shark Spotting program currently in place at Cape Town, South Africa,” Natalie said.

“This is a program that spotted over 1,700 sharks since it was first initiated almost eleven years ago, and has had minimal shark encounters compared to what we have seen in Australia.”

Shark Spotters was also the only immediate solution that the New South Wales review into non-lethal alternatives recommended.

Shark Net Ensnarements NSW 1950 - April 2015. Graphic: Michael BeasleyShark Net Ensnarements NSW 1950 - April 2015. Graphic: Michael Beasley

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