NSW shark nets kill a turtle every 20 days

By AAP 3 August 2021
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The vast majority of animals caught in the past year in shark netting off beaches in and around Sydney are not targetted shark species, statistics show.

A turtle is found dead on average every 20 days in a shark net lining beaches in and around Sydney, new data shows.

The annual report on 51 shark nets running from Newcastle to Wollongong shows 40 of the 375 animals found dead or alive in nets in the latest season were its target species: white, bull and tiger sharks.

It was more common to find southern eagle rays (95), smooth hammerheads (60) and bronze whalers (38).

While most rays are released alive, the vast majority of other animals caught were dead by the time they’re found.

That includes all five dolphins found during the eight-month season, as well as a fur seal trapped at Bondi.

Twelve of the 18 turtles caught also died, including an olive ridley sea turtle at Bronte, several on Sydney’s northern beaches and several more on the Central Coast.

Bull sharks, most of which died, were found at beaches including Avalon, McMasters, The Entrance and Thirroul.

The figures didn’t raise red flags under the program’s key performance indicators, being in line with or lower than previous seasons’ catches.

Related: Shark nets: Protecting us or just harming sharks?

For the third year in a row, there was no fatal or serious injury at a meshed beach – with 10 confirmed interactions over that time.

About 5.6 million people visited patrolled beaches in the netting zone between September 1 and April 30.

NSW has recently introduced several alternative beach protection strategies, including drone surveillance and “SMART” drumlines using regular surveillance.

Those solutions, combined with education programs and personal shark deterrents, were more technologically advanced and appropriate, Humane Society International Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society said on Monday.

“The indiscriminate deaths that occur as a result of the outdated Shark Meshing Program in NSW must end,” HSIA marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said.

“The technology is nearly 100 years old, we would never accept safety technology that old in any other facet of our lives, why should ocean safety be any different?”