Shark policy should be guided by science not polls

Media Release

3 August 2018

Say no to shark nets - bycatch from the Northern Coast shark net trialA turtle caught in a shark net

Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith said today the NSW Government should listen to the science on the ineffectiveness of shark nets, not make it a popularity contest.

"The Primary Industries Minister said he would be guided by science when it came to shark mitigation strategies but he has ignored the science repeatedly,” said Ms Smith.

“There was ample evidence to show that shark nets on the north coast were not going to provide protection for swimmers and surfers by catching target species compared to the SMART drum lines but the Minister chose to play politics and exploit a division within the community after a spate of shark fatalities and encounters."

"Marine scientists might have been able to forgive the first trial but when the science came back saying it was a failure in terms of catching target shark species the right thing to do would have been to cancel it then and there," said Ms Smith.

Instead there was a second trial which resulted in only 2 target sharks being caught by nets and 143 non-target species being caught, resulting in the deaths of dolphins, turtles and rays.

"As the local State member and someone who has been highly proactive in seeking out actual non-lethal shark mitigation strategies for surfers - surfers have a slightly higher risk of a shark encounter compared to swimmers - I am completely flabbergasted that a community survey has been the touchstone for the Nationals on this issue."

"You need scientifically proven effectiveness of shark deterrents when lives are at stake, not opinion polls.  Whether a method works or not is not a matter for polls - it either is, or it isn't, effective at protecting lives,” said Ms Smith.


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