Re-think on shark nets needed: Sea Shepherd
DATA showing that dolphins, turtles and stingrays made up more than a third of non-targeted species caught by drum lines and shark nets off the Sunshine Coast was a persuasive argument to find other methods of swimmer protection, Sea Shepherd's Apex Harmony program director Natalie Banks has claimed.
Since the netting and drum line program was introduced in 1962, there have been 4163 non-targeted species caught off the Coast's beaches, including 733 turtles, 318 dolphins and 2686 stingrays.
Included among targeted species caught were 2114 black tip reef sharks that Ms Banks said had not caused a fatality in recorded history.
The netting program on the Sunshine Coast since 1962 has also caught 1864 tiger sharks, 1245 hammerheads, 466 bull sharks and 100 endangered grey nurse sharks.
Not only was the program destructive to marine life, it had ultimately been unsuccessful, Ms Banks said, with 16 shark encounters recorded on netted beaches in Queensland and a further 40 in New South Wales.
She said there were a number of alternatives that were non-lethal and did not impact on dolphins or whales.
Sea Shepherd has spoken out after it obtained images of a one-metre tiger shark caught on a drum line off Point Cartwright on December 19.
It wants Queensland to trial Eco Shark Barriers now being deployed or planned for deployment in Western Australia and Lennox Head and Ballina in northern NSW.
Ms Banks said shark spotters used for the past 11 years in Cape Town South Africa had identified 1900 white sharks on eight beaches with only one fatality in that time.
The Eco Shark Barrier was an enclosure rather than a one-sided net that provided an effective non-lethal solution to the risk of shark encounters, she said.
A 650m barrier will be erected at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach early in the New Year and another 150m long structure will be placed at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox.
Data collected by Sea Shepherd also has found that while tourism suffered a small impact after an encounter, ultimately there was no difference, and in some cases, visitor numbers increased.
Ms Banks said Sea Shepherd had been working with the State Government and Greens senator Larissa Waters to introduce the trial of non-lethal devices in
Queensland and had run similar campaigns in Western Australia and in NSW, where the group has worked with Premier Mike Baird and the NSW Fisheries Department.
In the first half of this year, 27 sharks measuring more than two metres were caught off Coast beaches, including three that were greater than three metres in size.
The biggest animal caught off the Coast in the first half of 2015 was a 3.8m Tawny Shark, considered a non-lethal species.
It was one of 16 Tawny Sharks caught at Rainbow Beach alone with another eight measuring more than two metres.
Two vulnerable Grey Nurse sharks measuring 2.8m (May 28 at Sunshine Beach) and 2.66m (April 9, at Caloundra) were also caught.