Reasons for campaign
The nets push animals towards extinction
These 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.
Over the last 10 years a third of all catches have been from Sydney nets. Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered species represent almost 50% of the catch. The critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks, which are on the brink of extinction are killed every year in these nets across NSW.
The nets do not keep you safe
The nets are "placebo volleyball nets" that only give a false sense of security and do not keep you safe. Contrary to common belief, the shark nets were not designed to keep people safe, but purely to kill as many sharks as possible.
By catching other marine life the nets attracts more predatory sharks to the area. The nets do not span the entire beaches and are not barriers. Historic documents show that messaging nowadays is propaganda. The design of shark nets has not changed from the original design to "rid the ocean of sharks".
Healthy oceans need sharks
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 a third of shark species now on the brink of extinction. We need to learn to co-exist for the overall health of our oceans sake.
Modern Solutions are Better
The nets are expensive to maintain, they entangle and kill animals needlessly, and they do not keep people safe. Alternative technology is available, and being used in Western Australia and overseas. Using a mixture of drone technology, eco-barriers, personal shark deterrent technology and improved access to trauma kits will make people much safer, and reduce the likelihood of people drowning.
Shark Nets are not Shark Barriers
People often confuse the DPI's Shark Meshing Programme's shark nets with the shark barriers and enclosures used in Sydney harbour.
Shark nets, as used in Bondi, Bronte, Coogee, Maroubra, Manly and 46 other beaches in NSW are only 150m in length and 6m high. They sit below the surface of the water and do not act as a barrier. Sharks swim around, over and under them. They are specifically designed to catch and entangle animals. They provide no barrier
DPI contractually have to check the nets every 72 hours, but when there are rough sea conditions this can stretch much longer. Seals can only hold their breath for 7mins, turtles for a couple of hours, and dolphins can only hold their breath for 20mins, which is why in the last decade every single dolphin caught in the nets has died.
Norman lives in Bondi beside nets that try to kill him
Norman the friendly Grey Nurse shark and his friends live in Bondi. This is a docile species that despite looking fierce are known as the equivalent to the Labrador dogs of the ocean. Their teeth are designed to catch small fish - in fact they are more scared of us than we are of them. They are listed as Critically Endangered, both at federal and within the state governments, which means they should receive the greatest level of protection in Australia. Instead, about they live next to shark nets that entangle and kill them.
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 about 1500 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. Our campaign includes adding Bondi as an official aggregation site, based on evidence collected over several years.
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