Dear Minister,

 

I write to you on the very important topic of shark mitigation. This is an important issue that affects public safety, tourism and also the environment. I implore you to listen to science, listen to the facts, and bring your 'Shark Control' / 'Bather Protection' program into the 21st century. 

 

I ask that you swiftly deploy modern and effective shark mitigation measures, that also have a benefit of being non-lethal to both sharks and other marine life, such as:

  1. Standard drone surveillance technology on all patrolled beaches where water clarity permits. Multi-spectral drone surveillance technology in areas with poor water clarity. 

  2. In calmer waters, eco-barrier style hard mesh, full height (seabed to surface) barrier technology to create a swimming enclosure that does not entangle sharks or other marine life. 

  3. In bigger swell areas and areas with surf breaks, Shark Safe Barrier style artificial kelp, full height (seabed to surface), flexible barrier technology to keep large sharks isolated from swimmers and surfers.

  4. Rebates for peer-reviewed personal shark deterrents such as Ocean Guardian Shark Shield (dive, surf and boat models)

  5. A state-wide education campaign that highlights where the above technologies have been deployed and also the steps to take when swimming in areas that do not have those mitigation measures. This could include encouragement to carry personal trauma kits, what style of clothing to wear, shark behaviour information etc.

To claim your current program, designed in the 1930s is successful in reducing fatalities is erroneous, and the programs’ official line of 'only 1 fatality at a protected beach' is deceitful. There have been 50+ bites at netted or drum-lined beaches across NSW and QLD, and 2 fatalities. Fatalities have reduced since the implementation of your program due to improved medical techniques and responses, not due to the program itself. 

 

The 'Shark mitigation and deterrent measures' Senate Inquiry in 2017 gave a clear recommendation to States, that the current lethal program should end (Recommendation 8.16). It is now 2020 and this has been ignored to date. Drumlines and nets should be removed immediately. Shark populations are being decimated and there is no positive impact on safety.

 

It is clear both Australians and overseas visitors support non-lethal shark mitigation over the lethal culling practices of the current program. It is time to listen to your constituents, listen to science, and move the program into the twenty-first century as outlined above. Let's lead the world on shark mitigation, rather than being the laughing stock of the world.

 

I look forward to you having some courage and making the right decision in the very near future, by ending the program in its current form. Until that time, I will be taking my tourism dollars to other states or countries as I cannot in good conscience support a state that culls protected species. 

 

Kind regards,

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