Fear generated by recent media reports about sharks should not drive the continued netting of NSW beaches when nets only offer a false sense of security, according to the state’s peak environment group.
“Sharks can easily swim over or around nets, and about 40 per cent of sharks caught in nets are found on the beach side,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said today.
“Shark nets provide little protection for swimmers but they are death traps indiscriminately catching any marine animals that happen to swim by, including dolphins, dugongs and turtles.
“Dolphins, turtles and harmless shark species, including the critically endangered grey nurse shark, are also caught and killed. There are fewer than 500 grey nurse sharks left off the east coast of Australia and beach meshing is a key threat to their survival.
“The Nature Conservation Council of NSW urges the state government to abandon its beach netting program. The Government should take the opportunity created by the current review of the state’s long-standing shark net program to investigate all effective non-lethal alternatives to shark nets.
“Public education around which times and areas - such as the mouths of estuaries and lakes - to avoid swimming when sharks are most active feeding and breeding is a critical component of any government shark safety program.
“Shark nets fail both swimmers and the environment, and it is time we considered better non-lethal protection for our beaches,” Ms Faehrmann said.