Northern Beaches Council is calling on the NSW government to remove shark nets on beaches in the Council area and replace them with a combination of modern and effective alternative shark mitigation strategies that maintain or improve swimmer safety and reduce unwanted by-catch of non-target species.
Council made the call in response to the Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries (DPI Fisheries) request for input from stakeholders on their preferred shark mitigation measures, following a five-year project considering the benefits and impacts of a range of mitigation measures.
A number of residents addressed Council’s meeting last night in support of shark net removal, including surfing champion Layne Beachley.
A/Mayor Candy Bingham said Council considered both the need to maintain or improve swimmer safety as well as the negative impacts on non-target marine species in reaching their decision.
“The effectiveness of shark nets has been questioned by many, yet their impact on other marine species is devastating,” Cr Bingham said.
“We have an aquatic reserve in Manly where turtles and rays are regularly seen by snorkellers, and up and down the beaches dolphins surf the waves alongside local board riders.
“The research conducted by DPI Fisheries found that 90% of marine species caught in nets were non-target species and that sharks can in fact swim over, under and around the nets anyhow.
“If the evidence is that there are other just as, or more, effective ways to mitigate shark risk, such as drone and helicopter surveillance, listening stations and deterrent devices, then we owe it to those non-target species to remove the nets.
‘We will be providing that feedback through this consultation process and look forward to the government implementing effective shark mitigation measures while protecting other important marine species.”