The State’s peak environment group is disappointed that the NSW Government has squandered the opportunity to reform the beach meshing program in NSW so that its impact on threatened species and harmless marine mammals is reduced.
“We are dismayed that there is no mention of researching alternatives to shark nets, with research instead being directed towards collecting data on what is caught in the nets,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said today.
“The vast majority of species caught in the shark nets are harmless to humans, with an unacceptably high amount of threatened species caught and killed in the nets.
“Shark meshing has been formally recognised by the State Government as a threat to endangered species such as loggerhead turtles, dugongs and two species of shark.
“Shark nets give people a false sense of security, while indiscriminately killing thousands of marine mammals and other life that are harmless to humans.
“The fact that the two most recent Sydney shark attacks occurred at beaches where nets were fully operational highlights the ineffectiveness of keeping people safe.
“Beach nets aren't a deterrent for sharks, with about 40 per cent of all sharks caught in the beach side of the net.
“This was an opportunity for some sensible debate around the benefits and costs of shark nets. It is clear that with more than 16,000 creatures caught in shark nets off NSW beaches since 1950, the cost is extremely high, while any tangible benefits negligible.
“Retaining the shark meshing program is one based on politics, rather than science because if you used the science you would remove the nets.
“Factors such as the time beachgoers are in the water, the degree of water visibility and location are all much more critical than whether a beach net is in place,” Ms Faehrmann said.