Phase out shark nets and switch to smarter, less-lethal devices, inquiry finds

Lisa Mondy: a shark bite survivor who argues against shark nets and says the chances of an attack on humans remain minimal. Photo: Max Mason-HubersThe NSW and Queensland governments should phase out shark nets and immediately replace lethal drum lineswith more sophisticated gear to limit unnecessary harm tomarine wildlife, a Senate inquiry has concluded.
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The final report on shark mitigation and deterrent measures,released on Tuesday, noted the frequency of shark bites on humans was”infinitesimal” even as the number of beachvisits continue to climb.

Among the recommendations was increased funding for shark research to establish population trends and on the emerging technologies that may deter attacks.

The report also recommended that environment and energy ministerJosh Frydenbergshould refrain from permittinglethal shark controls until after a scheduled review of the biodiversity conservation act due in 2019.

It noted fatalities from sharks in totalled47 during the past 50 years – or fewer than one ayear. People were almost 100 times more likely to die from drowningthan from a shark bite.

READ MORE:​Surfer’s lucky escape from shark

“[The] hodge-podge of policies around the country is guided by politics, rather than by evidence and consultation,” said Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens Oceans spokesman who chaired the inquiry.

“[Technology] is rapidly developing in terms of personal and whole-of-beach scale deterrence devices, and along with drones and phone apps this allows us to set a timeline for the full withdrawal of shark nets around the country,” he said.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Mr Frydenberg.

Aspokeswoman for Niall Blair, NSW’s Minister for Primary Industries, said the state now deployed only SMART drum lines, with rangefrom Ballina in the north to Narrawallee on the south coast.

“To date we are actively tracking245great white,10tiger and42bull sharks,” she said.

“SMART drum lines are complementing our meshing programs,” she said. “However, we will continue to compare the results of both technologies to make surewe can make decisions aboutthe best protections.”

Mark Furner, Queensland’s new fisheries minister, said the Palaszczukgovernment remained”steadfast in its support for the Queensland Shark Control Program as it has undoubtedly saved lives”.

“That is why it is so highly valued and why it will continue,” Mr Furner said. “While we continue to monitor emerging technology, the safety of swimmers is paramount.”

Phase out shark nets and switch to smarter devices: inquiry Bob Woodcock set a state record in 1981 with his 785kg great white shark caught on a 36kg line.

Page one of the Newcastle Post, January 29, 1992. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Date and location unknown.

A thrasher shark from Cowrie Hole in 1954.George Southern, Elsie Southern, Sailor Hopkins, Peter Walmsley

Cessnock game fisherman Paul Besoff, 20, spent an anxious night at Shoal Bay wharf last night guarding his prize possesion, a 1200lb plus tiger shark, he hopes will be ratified as a world record. Photo by George Steele, April 25, 1977.

A fishermen netted this ferocious looking fellow of Nelson Bay in August, 1971. It was later identified as a Sawshark.

Big Bitie caught Gil Noble of Pelican with the 12’3″ Tiger shark on April 23, 1984. Photo: Mick Dawson.

Karyn Heyward 16, of Blakehurst with 432kg White Pointer Shark, caught by Peter Thompson of Coal Point on a 36kg line on February 25, 1979. Photo taken at the Shoal Bay weigh in.

Troy Grieves of Caves Beach with the 319kg whaler shark he caught on March 18, 1984. Photo: Ken Robson at Pelican Marina.

Weigh in for the Womens Day In Game Fishing Competition Pictured is Gina Rees of Budgewoi with a 162kg Tiger Shark at Nelson Bay public wharf on February 27, 1991.

Deborah Ford, the widow of John James Ford, who was taken by a shark off Byron Bay is escorted from a service. Photo: Ben Rushton, 1993.

Shark mesh contactor Darryl Sullivan with a tiger shark netted off Merewether at police wharf on October 26, 1983. Photo: David Johns

Scott Graham, 11, of Swansea Heads with a Hammerhead shark meshed off the coast. Photo: David Wicks.

A Tiger shark caught by Hans Zimmerman off Port Stephens. Photo published on April 3, 1990.

Mick Wright with his 395kg Maco at Swansea weigh in on October 8, 1988. Photo: Dean Osland.

Perry James, 19, of Merewether, with the tiger shark he caught off Swansea on April 25, 1978.

Myuna Bay Fitness Camp principal Murray Scoble with shark jaws, taken on November 11, 1988.

319kg Whaler Shark caught by Michael Gleghorn, 23 of Bellbird. Caught about nine mile out from Port Stephens on a 24kg line. Michael is pictured with the rod he used. Photo taken September 20, 1987.

J Pickles of Nelsen Bay with a 762lbs Mako Shark in February 1963.

Hans Meyer with his record Tiger Shark, weighing 487kg. Taken at Swansea on April 26, 1986.

Paul Temperley of Elenmore Vale with his catch, a 291kg Tiger Shark in his boat, Boat Hot Tuna in the Big Game Fishing Competition. Photo: Anita Jones, March 1, 1992 at Nelson Bay.

Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club weigh in Fish & Shark Tournament. Boat crew: Michael Richards, (Marks Point). Angler: Glen Kirkwood, (Swansea). Greg Harrison, (Belmont), on September 29, 1992 at Swansea. Photo: Dean Osland.

World record Mako shark caught, 329kg on a 10kg line. Gary Spruce, (Boat Skipper). Neil Williamson of Cambridge Hills, on November 25, 1979 at Pelican Boat Shed. Photo: David Wicks.

Flashback to March 1984. A Big White Pointer swallows 80kg shark almost whole (in two gulps).

Chris Clarke of the Fish Bowl framed in Tiger shark jaws at the Fish Bowl Charlestown Square on August 11, 1983.

Angler Mick Wright with a huge Mako Shark caught off Norah Head. (318kg) on October 3, 1993.

Scott Fitzsimons with his world record shark catch, on October 2, 1988. Photo taken at Swansea Weigh Station.

Perry James, 19 of Merewether with a tiger shark he caught off Swansea on April 25, 1978. Photo: C. Brodie.

Game Fishing Champ. 186kg Tiger Shark from boat “Down Under” on February 27, 1993. Place taken: Nelson Bay

Brothers Joe and Dominic Bagnato with a four-metre Grey Nurse shark. Phoo taken on July 23, 1986 at Fishermans Co-op, by John Herrett.

Weigh in for the Womens Day In Game Fishing Competition. Gina Rees of Budgewoi with a 162kg Tiger shark. Taken on February 27, 1991 at Nelson Bay.

Robyn Spruce with the jaws of her world record breaking shark. Photo taken at Belmont on December 10, 1980.

319kg Whaler Shark caught by Michael Gleghorn, 23 of Bellbird. Caught about nine mile out from Port Stephens on a 24kg line. Michael is pictured with the rod he used. Photo taken at New Marina, Nelson Bay, on September 20, 1987.

Neville James of Swansea caught this 273kg Tiger Shark off Catherine Hill Bay, at 1.30pm on April 8, 1979. It took him six hours to land it onto his boat Gari-Lee. He caught it on a 50lb line.

Mick Middleton with a Whaler Shark 185kg shark caught on 15kg line on June 30, 1989.

Brett Remington with a 121kg thresher shark on June 29, 1981.

Derek Henon caught this world-record hammerhead shark on January 5, 1986. The 208kg shark was taken on a 15kg line and took more than two hours to bring alongside boat. It was hooked about 10 km east of Port Macquarie. The previous best was 198.22kg caught off Port Stephens in 1982.

Jason Malowey (left) and Brad Thompson on January 5, 1989.

This article, published on January 23, 1988, detailed 15 shark attacks since the turn of the century.

Nathan Ghosn, 12, at Nelson Bay.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Belmont baths in the 1960’s. Photo: Damon Cronshaw.

Shark attack at Evans Head on January 4, 1989.

Two sharks in Newcastle. Date unknown.

Shark caught. Myuna Bay. Date unknown.

Deckhand from Alice L, Brian Craig pulls a small shark into the dinghy off Bar Beach. Photo: Ron Bell, January 15, 1998.

Shark meshing boat Alice L in Newcastle Harbour. Photo: Ron Bell, January 15, 1998.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

TweetFacebookStep forwardLisa Mondy, who was bitten by a shark seven years ago near Port Stephens, supported the recommendations calling for the removal ofnets but queried the efficacy ofSMART drum lines.

These devices more precisely lure target sharks – such as great whites, bulls and tigers – and allow the animals to be tagged and released. .

“It’s a step towards something better but I think there’s going to be better ways,” Ms Mondy said.

“As much as killing or moving sharks seems like it could be helping, there’s not really any evidence to say that it is,” she said, adding that people “making informed choices about when we’re going into the water and where is a much better way of managing to keep safe from sharks”.

David Woods, a formerBallina fisherman,predicted morefatal shark bites in the future and “it will be more dangerous to swim in the ocean than drive a car on the road” if white sharks werenot taken off the endangered species list.

“Instead of seeing one every 12 months or six months you’re seeing one every second day,” Woods said.

READ MORE:​Hammerhead shark spotted in Lake Macquarie

Dissenting viewsCoalition senators provided additional comments to the report, saying public safety in the water was “paramount”.

They “largelysupport[ed] the use of non-lethal and deterrent measureswhere such measures are proven to be as effective as existing measures”.

They also strongly rejected the Greens’ view that nets and drum lines didn’t make beaches safe. Theynotedthere had been only one death during the past half-century at the 85-odd protected beaches in NSW and Queensland.

A great white shark: Senate report looks into the myths around shark bites. Photo: Paul Johnston

Labor senators, meanwhile, backed most of the report’s 20 recommendations while noting it was “unfeasible to place a blanket restriction” on the federal environment minister for the next two yearsmore. Still, they dubbed the proposal of the former Liberal government in Western for a shark cull as “absurd”.

The Greens, though, were disappointed that the report failed to call for an immediate removal of all shark nets while noted the “political difficultly” of such a step.

The report also highlighted the role of the media. Coverage of deaths from shark attacks”greatly exceeds” that given to most other cause offatalities or injury,it says.

“[Sensationalised] media reporting is problematic for supporting responsible and respectful public debate on shark issues and for the public perception of beach safety generally,” the report says.

Media coverage was one factor in thedecision in October 2016 by the then Baird governmentto backflipon its policy and introduce nets for northern NSW beaches after a spate of shark bites. The nets cover just 600 metres of about 32 kilometres of beaches and resulted in more than 250 animals being caught.

READ MORE:Two-metre shark jumped out of the water and hit him in the right shoulder.

Leading shark mythsThe report addressed popular misconceptions about sharks, including:

– Shark numbers have soared

There is no evidence to support the idea the shark population is dramatically rising despite two decades of protection. Experts say this misconception could have developed from more people in the water resulting in a greater number of sightings. It could also be due to changes in the distribution of prey leading to a higher number of sharks approaching the coast.

– Sharks target humans as prey

Experts say that sharks don’t target humans as prey and encounters that occur are usually due to the shark mistaking a person for their natural targets. Sharks are curious animals that are known to investigate anything they come across.

– Killing ‘rogue’ sharks is the solution

Sharks do not hunt humans and they haven’t developed a tastefor human flesh. Experts say sharks are continually roaming over long distances and most are not permanent residents at one location. Several shark encounters in one area cannot be attributed to one shark.

– More sharks equate to more attacks

Just because there are sharks in the ocean does not mean there will be attacks. Large numbers of sharks are constantly travelling through our waters along the coastlines and this activity commonly occurs without incident.

– Shark nets don’t let the sharks close to shore

Nets are not shark-proof and they do not act asbarriersseparating humans and sharks. They only have limited coverage as they are 150 to 186 metres wide and six metres deep. Experts say nets are not designed to create an enclosed area but are used as a passive fishing device to catch and kill sharks .




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