By Tess Middleton, Fin Free Albury Wodonga
There are two words dominating the news at the moment, and I don’t mean Trump and Clinton. I am talking about shark nets. Spring is here again and as sure as the season arrives, so does the debate on shark nets.
Shark nets and drum lines are installed in many beaches around Australia. Drum lines are baited hooks, strategically placed off popular beaches and aim to catch “dangerous” sharks. Shark nets are long stretches of net placed off popular beaches. Sadly these current measures do not discriminate and will trap anything in their path. The nets entangle, and in most cases, slowly kill any creature that finds themselves encountering them. Even if the animals are released, the survival rate is low.
While you have a greater risk of being killed by a falling coconut, vending machine, or in your car on the way to the beach, the illusion of safety is what prompts support for these instalments. Neither of these options actually protect beach goers from sharks, in fact, the majority of sharks caught are actually on their way back out to the open ocean. Nets do not fully enclose swimmers so sharks can swim over, under and around these nets, doing absolutely nothing to protect those wanting protection.
Between 1962 and 2014 the following species were entangled in nets or ensnared on drum lines;
- 18,110 Rays
- 14,370 Hammerhead sharks
- 5,044 turtles
- 1,014 dolphins
- 785 Great White Sharks
- 689 Dugongs
- 265 Grey Nurse sharks
- 120 whales
- 13 Whale sharks
- 1 human
One of these dolphins, was only a baby and in 2014 was pierced through her chest on a drum line. The mother tried desperately to help her live by pushing on her stomach and helping her stay afloat so she could breathe until rescuers arrived. The baby was not returned to the ocean & the mother was seen staying with the drum lines for several days after the incident. In this year alone, we have seen 9 whales trapped in these nets.
There are more effective, eco-friendly solutions available, so why isn’t the Government putting their funds towards these options? Just two of these options include the Eco Shark Barrier and a shark spotter program, which Byron Bay has only just implemented.
If you ever have the opportunity to see a shark in their home, consider yourself lucky, it is an exceptional sight and one future generations may not be so lucky to experience.