Destruction. Deception. Decimation.
SHARK NETS AND DRUMLINES
DON'T KEEP SHARKS AWAY
Shark Control Program shark net arrangement. Image identifies net components (floats, shackles and acoustic alarms) and net dimensions.
© Queensland Government
NSW Government’s Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Net dimensions
© NSW Government
A 'shark net' is between 150m long (New South Wales) and 183m long (Queensland), 6m deep, and set in 12m deep water. They are often used to "protect" beaches that are many kilometers long. They are not a barrier, they do not enclose an area. A 'drumline' is a freshly baited shark fishing-hook, hanging from a bouy, that aims to attract and catch sharks. Both are set approx 500m from shore, and neither prevent sharks from swimming over, under or around them.
As just two examples, there are a total of 2.01km of shark nets used to "protect" the 30km+ of Gold Coast beaches (11 nets x 183m each). These nets do not go to the bottom in Queensland.
Bondi Beach spans approximately 1km and is "protected" by one 150m net. These nets do not go to the surface in New South Wales.
SHARK NETS AND DRUMLINES
ARE FISHING DEVICES
Queensland and New South Wales state legislation allows their respective Fisheries departments to operate a lethal shark mitigation program, to reduce shark populations, using shark nets and drumlines.
These devices are fishing apparatus designed to catch and kill. Their use is legislated under Fisheries legislation, and interfering with the equipment is punishable under the Fisheries Act. Public facing Government communications avoid this fishing reference, but internal and legal references to this program acknowledge that it is a fishing program.
It is designed to selectively slaughter a wild animal, also known as culling.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT KNOWS CULLING SHARKS DOESN'T KEEP YOU SAFE
The 'Shark mitigation and deterrent measures' Senate Inquiry (2017), found substantial evidence that Mesh Nets and Drumlines used by the Queensland Shark Control Program and NSW Shark Meshing and Bather Protection Program to Cull sharks - do not make any impact on safety, negatively impact the marine Ecosystem, and provide beach goers with a false sense of security - and recommended they cease in favour of modern non-lethal technologies. More here.
CULLING SHARKS HASN'T WORKED ELSEWHERE
In Hawaii over 4,500 sharks were culled over nearly two decades. After an evaluation demonstrated that the cull did not impact the number of swimmer fatalities, the program was quickly abandoned in favour of non-lethal measures.
CULLING SHARKS HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE INEFFECTIVE IN A COURT OF LAW
The outcome of Humane Society International (Australia) Inc vs Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (Qld) AATA Case proved overwhelmingly that mesh nets and drumlines used by these programs does not make any impact on safety, negatively impacts on the marine ecosystem, and provides beachgoers with a false sense of security. More here.
NETS AND DRUMLINES BAIT LARGE SHARKS CLOSER TO SWIMMERS AND SURFERS
In assessing Queensland Shark Control Program catch data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, we have found 1,000+ cases of smaller animals, caught on baited drumlines and nets, that have then been predated on by a large shark.
SHARK CULLING HAS HAD ZERO IMPACT ON SHARK RELATED FATALITIES
Since 1962, when the drum line program began in Queensland, the fatality rate has averaged 0.37 per year, a number not significantly different than previous decades. During the 160 years from 1850 to 2010, the average fatality from shark bite rate varied. From 1850 to 1910 it was 0.32 fatalities per year, but then a spike in fatalities in the 1920s saw the average increase to 1.1 per year. Following that, the rate of fatal bites generally declined, falling to a low of 0.2 per year in the 1990s (Meeuwig et al, 2014).
THE CHANCES OF GETTING BITTEN BY A SHARK ARE EXTREMELY, UNIMAGINABLY LOW.
Consider the millions who enter the ocean each year framed against the five fatalities (in 2019), only two of which were classified by
International Shark Attack File’s as unprovoked.
SHARKS ARE KEY TO HEALTHY OCEANS
Sharks prey on weak and diseased animals, improving their ecosystems and helping fish stocks stay healthy and balanced. Sharks also reproduce slowly and struggle to recover from decimation such as these programs. Luckily, evidence shows enforced protection leads to recovering populations.
THE BYCATCH SIGNIFICANTLY OUTWEIGHTS THE TARGETED SHARK CATCH
In NSW during 2017/2018 alone, the program caught:
20 Grey Nurse Sharks, 10 killed (Critically endangered species) • 78 Smooth Hammerheads, 77 killed • 3 Great Hammerheads, all killed (Endangered species) • 4 Common Dolphins, all killed (Protected species) • 3 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, all killed (Protected species) • 26 White Sharks, 14 killed (Threatened species) • 9 Green Turtles, 7 killed (Threatened species) • 2 Hawksbill Turtles, both killed (Threatened species) • 2 Leatherback Sea Turtles, released alive (Threatened species) • 1 Olive Ridley Turtle, killed (Threatened species) • 172 Rays, 31 killed (Protected species/Non-Target species) • 3 Port Jackson Sharks, 1 dead (Non-Target species)
QUEENSLAND INTENTIONALLY CULLS HARMLESS SHARKS
The Queensland Shark Control Program has a target list of 19 sharks, 16 of which are widely accepted not to pose a threat to humans. Australian Blacktip, Long Nose Whaler, Longfin Mako, Silvertip, Blue, Nose Whaler, Grey Reef, Shortfin Mako, Silk, Great Hammerhead, Oceanic Whitetip, Lemon, Common Blacktip, Dusk Whaler, Pigeye and Sandbar sharks are all on a target 'kill' list, despite posing little risk of fatal bites to humans.
Great White, Tiger and Bull Sharks are responsible for most human fatalities, however, Queensland places no minimum size limitations on their kill list, so even juveniles are killed, often well before breeding age, and even pups in the womb.
Illustrations by Sharktopia
SHARK POPULATIONS HAVE BEEN DECIMATED
A peer-reviewed study conducted using Queensland Shark Control Program data found substantial declines (74–92%) of catch per unit effort of hammerhead (Sphyrnidae), whaler (Carcharhinidae), tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). Following the onset of the Shark Control Program program in the 1960s, catch rates in new installations in subsequent decades occurred at a substantially lower rate, indicating regional depletion of shark populations over the past half a century (Roff et al, 2018).
THE LONGEST RUNNING MARINE CULL IN
New South Wales officially commenced their shark culling program in 1937. Since that time, Australia has continued to cull sharks uninterrupted for 85 years. Queensland's cull started in 1962, and while New South Wales now removes their nets during whale season, Queensland do not. As such, there has been some form of uninterrupted shark culling on the Australian East Coast since 1937, which makes it the world's longest marine culling program in recorded history.