Ballina's deputy mayor has labelled the shark net trial
Ballina's deputy mayor has labelled the shark net trial "intolerable”. Sea Shepherd Australia

'This is slaughter, not science': Shark net trial slammed

BALLINA'S deputy mayor, Keith Williams, has called on the NSW Government to abandon the second North Coast shark net trial, describing the 98 per cent by-catch rate recorded in December 2017 as "intolerable".

Cr Williams said a briefing provided to Ballina councillors by DPI yesterday highlighted the value of drones, 'tagging' research and SMART drumlines, but failed to provide a rationale for continuing the shark net program.

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He also said staff told councillors that a second trial of shark nets "was a decision of the Minister".

"The briefing provided no reassurance that DPI has any effective strategies to reduce the catch of non-target species such as dolphins, turtles and rays in the nets", he said.

The DPI report on the first trial concluded that only nine of 300 animals caught was a target shark species and 68 per cent of Ballina residents surveyed said this was unacceptable.

"The data presented by the DPI last night showed that the by-catch rate in the second trial has worsened, with just one target shark caught amongst 55 other animals in the nets after the first month," Cr Williams said.

"Although some modifications have been made to the nets, it is clear that these changes are not working. Despite this, DPI refused to consider ending the trial stating there was not yet enough data.

"This is not science. This is slaughter. Science would at least require animal ethics approval and this project has none.

"The DPI also failed to present any data to demonstrate that the nets are actually effective at reducing human-shark incidents. In contrast, evidence presented to the Senate Shark Mitigation Inquiry last year showed there was no statistical difference in the rate of shark incidents between netted and non-netted beaches."

Cr Williams also noted that the most recent shark incident in NSW occurred at a netted beach at Avoca on the Central Coast last November.

"Drones such as the Little Ripper, which affected the first ever drone surf rescue just over week ago, offer better protection and when combined with SMART drumlines are far more effective at keeping sharks away from beach users," he said.

"I have no confidence DPI can reduce shark net by-catch to an acceptable level. They must abandon this second trial and instead focus on the strategies that work."

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