The state’s peak environment group has called for shark nets to be removed from NSW beaches after the death of an adult female dugong in a net off Sydney’s Coogee beach today.
“Shark nets are quite the misnomer as these indiscriminate death traps take their toll on a wide range of marine animals, including the endangered dugong found today,” Marine Campaigner Ben Birt said today.
“The loss of an adult female dugong will be significant for the slow reproducing species listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“It shows the NSW Government’s newly-revised Shark Meshing Program is not adequately protecting threatened marine species from getting caught and drowned.
“Every year critically endangered grey nurse sharks, protected species such as dolphins and turtles and other harmless and well loved marine animals are killed in shark nets off NSW beaches.
“Since 1950, beach nets have caught more than 16,000 animals, killing the vast majority. The unacceptable toll on our marine life includes 4666 harmless and internationally threatened hammerhead sharks, 3040 rays and 160 marine mammals, including dugongs.
“We want the Government to come clean on the failure of beach nets as a shark deterrent. The nets are not an effective barrier to the beach as they are open at either end and sharks can easily swim over or around them to reach the beach. The Department of Primary Industry’s own figures show most sharks are caught between the net and the shoreline.
“Before the marine death toll from shark nets rises this summer, the Nature Conservation Council urges the immediate removal of shark nets from NSW beaches,” Mr Birt said.