Image: AMCS/HSI/N McLachlan
STATE-FUNDED SHARK CULLING
Queensland and New South Wales state legislation allows their respective Fisheries departments to operate a lethal shark mitigation program, to reduce shark populations, through the use of shark nets and drumlines.
These devices are fishing apparatus designed to catch and kill. Their use is legislated under Fisheries legislation, and interfering with the equipment is punishable under the Fisheries Act.
Public-facing Government communications avoid this fishing reference, but internal and legal references to this program acknowledge that it is a fishing program.
It is designed to selectively slaughter a wild animal, also known as culling.
A 'shark net' is between 150m long (New South Wales) and 183m long (Queensland), 6m deep, and set in 12m deep water. They are often used to "protect" beaches that are many kilometers long. These nets are designed to entangle and kill animals.
They are not a barrier, they do not enclose an area.
A 'drumline' is a baited shark fishing-hook, hanging from a bouy, that aims to attract and catch sharks. Lethal drumlines are designed to hook and kill animals.
Both are set approx 500m from shore, and neither prevents sharks from swimming over, under or around them.
As just two examples, there are a total of 2.01km of shark nets used to "protect" the 30km+ of Gold Coast beaches (11 nets x 183m each). These nets do not go to the bottom in Queensland. Bondi Beach spans approximately 1km and is "protected" by one 150m net. These nets do not go to the surface in New South Wales.
A peer-reviewed study conducted using Queensland Shark Control Program data found substantial declines (74–92%) of catch per unit effort of hammerhead (Sphyrnidae), whaler (Carcharhinidae), tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).
Following the onset of the Shark Control Program program in the 1960s, catch rates in new installations in subsequent decades occurred at a substantially lower rate, indicating regional depletion of shark populations over the past half a century (Roff et al, 2018).
FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
The outcome of Humane Society International (Australia) Inc v Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (Qld) AATA Case proved "overwhelmingly" that mesh nets and drumlines used by these programs does not make any impact on safety, negatively impacts on the marine ecosystem, and provides beachgoers with a false sense of security.
The 'Shark mitigation and deterrent measures' Senate Inquiry (2017), found substantial evidence that Mesh Nets and Drumlines - used by the Queensland Shark Control Program and NSW Shark Meshing and Bather Protection Program to Cull sharks - do not make any impact on safety, negatively impact the marine Ecosystem, and provide beach goers with a false sense of security - and recommended they cease in favour of modern non-lethal technologies.
"The lethal component of the SCP does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions. The scientific evidence before us is overwhelming in this regard."
Humane Society International (Australia) Inc v Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (Qld)
Illustrations by Sharktopia. These species are the 19 listed target species of the Queensland Shark Control Program as at 2021
Since the 1930’s, sharks have been targeted and killed by government-run shark culling programs to “protect” beaches in Australia. These have operated in New South Wales since 1937, and Queensand since 1962. In this time, almost 70 shark bite incidents, including 3 fatalities, have occurred at so-called “protected” beaches.
SHARK BITE MITIGATION AND MODERNISATION
It is the position of the members of the Nets Out Now Coalition that:
shark culling via the use of shark nets and lethal drumlines is an ineffective method for promoting public safety, providing only a false sense of security to beachgoers
these methods are extremely detrimental to the health and ecological viability of our marine life and ecosystems, affecting both ‘target’ and ‘non-target' species
we directly oppose the continuation of outdated, lethal measures of shark control and beach safety programs that are not supported by scientific evidence, namely shark nets and lethal drumlines, and support the immediate transition away from these methods
we support and advocate for the use of scientifically supported, evidence-based approaches using modern and non-lethal alternatives in these programs, in conjunction with community education and support for lifesavers and first responders, and request the rapid implementation of these measures
It is our position that these updated measures will improve protection for both beach-goers and marine life within Australian waters, as well as positioning Australia as a global leader on shark mitigation, leading to improvements in human safety, tourism, conservation and reputation.
Lethal programs designed to kill target sharks are ineffective at improving beach safety and do not have the social licence to continue, especially those that kill large amounts of by-catch of non-target species such as dolphins, whales and turtles. It is our position that lethal drumlines and shark nets should be replaced with non-lethal mitigation methods as a matter of urgency.
Member organisations may have their own individual position statements with further detail on their organisations position on more specific issues, and are available to be approached directly.
Image: AMCS/HSI/N McLachlan
Together with nets and baited drumlines, over 100,000 sharks other marine animals have been killed. These tactics and methods are cruel, outdated, and have been proved time and again not to protect swimmers and surfers.
These archaic and ineffective methods pose a huge risk — not only to endangered shark populations — but also to whales, dolphins, turtles, dugongs, and many other wildlife species. Even the swimmers and surfers these programs are designed to protect are put at risk by them, by allowing these beachgoers a false sense of security.
Our petition demands decision-makers at all levels stop killing sharks and other marine life, and to modernise shark bite mitigation in Australia.
Image: Rebecca Griffiths