Image: Vanessa Torres Macho Photography
Reasons for campaign
The nets are killing so many other animals
Nets do not only catch target sharks. In 2020 DPI recorded more than 90% of the catch as non-targeted “bycatch”, including 430 other creatures such as rays, turtles, seals and dolphins caught in NSW nets, with the target sharks representing less than 10% of the total catch. Over the last 10 years a third of all catches have been from Sydney nets, with Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered species, as defined on the IUCN Red List, representing almost 50% of the catch. On the 11th August 2021 a Humpback Whale was caught in one of these shark nets on the Gold Coast creating more media attention on this important subject. The critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks (known as dog Labradors of the sea due to their friendly docile nature) are killed every year in these nets.
The nets do not keep people safe
The nets are "placebo volleyball nets" in the middle of the water stretching only 150m in length. They give a false sense of security and do not keep you safe. Contrary to common belief, the shark nets do not keep swimmers safe. They are designed to catch marine animals and kill, which only attracts more predatory sharks to the area. The nets do not span the entire beaches and are not barriers. The historic documents highlighted in our website show that the nets primary purpose was to catch and kill sharks.
Sharks play an important role in keeping our oceans healthy
Shark ancestry traces back over 450 million years, before even the dinosaurs and trees. Sharks are apex predators and keep the entire ecosystem of marine life in check to ensure other predatory fish do not overfish all the smaller fish. Healthy oceans depend on sharks. It is widely known that sharks populations have declined by 70%+ in just 50 years with many species now on the brink of extinction. We need to learn to co-exist for the overall health of our oceans sake.
Non-lethal modern alternatives are better!
The current shark nets catch more bycatch than non-targeted species (92% of animals caught are non-targeted bycatch). These shark nets are killing our friendly marine life like Norman the Greynurse shark, Alex the seal, Raymond the Stingray and Dolly the Dolphin. They are expensive to maintain. Alternatives are available, and being used in Western Australia and overseas, and have added benefits of reducing the likelihood of people drowning (e.g. Drone technology). So why is the NSW state government adamant to hold on to these outdated practices? They will achieve better results with non-lethal methods. DroneSharkApp is a great example of this.
Grey Nurse sharks including Norman are listed as Critically Endangered in Australia
Norman the friendly Grey Nurse shark lives in Bondi and is listed as Critically Endangered, both at federal and within the state governments, which means they should receive the greatest level of protection in Australia. Grey Nurse Sharks are extremely vulnerable to human-induced pressures, including fishing. Many decades of capture in a variety of fishing methods, including recreational and commercial line fishing, spearfishing and bather protection nets saw a significant decline in the number of Grey Nurse Sharks in NSW waters, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. As of 2013, The Department of Primary Industries estimates that the entire East Coast population is about1500 individuals. A popular target threshold for any given species to survive extinction is to have at least 5000 individuals and so it may be some time yet before this species is considered healthy. A population lives in Bondi and has done for thousands of years (Aboriginal rock carvings in Bondi show the sharks) and are killed every year in these nets across NSW. This particular population of critically endangered, protected species of Grey Nurse shark, live beside a lethal shark net that targets to catch sharks and invariably kill them.
CSIRO - What is the purpose of shark nets? - Read article
Current Shark Meshing program in NSW - Final Recommendation - Read article
DPI Report into the NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program - Read article
Shocking wildlife death toll in NSW shark nets (2020) - Read article
Shark nets in NSW. What's the catch - Read article
The Conversation: More shark nets for NSW. Why haven't we learnt from WA's cull - Read article