SIR RICHARD BRANSON ADDS VOICE TO CALL FOR REMOVAL OF SHARK NETS
17th March 2017
Sir Richard Branson has added his voice to Humane Society International (HSI) Australia's call for non-lethal alternatives to shark nets and drumlines in New South Wales and Queensland, as the Senate Inquiry into Shark Mitigation and Deterrent Measures continues today in Sydney.
On the issue of the use of shark nets and drumlines in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland to cull sharks at beaches, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and Ocean advocate said, "Killing sharks for behaving like sharks makes no sense. We need to learn how to live safely with sharks, rather than killing them. We need to adopt non-lethal control methods including public education campaigns so that people understand when interactions with sharks may be at a peak, and aerial spotting and shark spotter programs. By removing sharks from ecosystems, the natural food web is broken which damages ecosystem health, undermines food security, hurts the health of the ocean and reduces tourism dollars too.”
Today HSI will present to the Senate Inquiry into Shark Mitigation and Deterrent Measures about the lethal consequences of shark nets and drumlines on Australia's marine life, calling on our governments to adopt a completely different approach to safeguard protected, harmless and threatened wildlife.
"Not only do shark nets and drumlines kill thousands of endangered marine animals, they are also ineffective at protecting the public and are out of date. In fact, in New South Wales 65% of shark bites occur at netted beaches,” says Jessica Morris, Marine Scientist with HSI.
"It's time to invest in non-lethal strategies to give swimmers peace of mind about sharks, including the installation of eco-barriers and increased aerial surveillance of beaches,” says Ms Morris.
As experts in marine conservation, HSI has a long standing policy against lethal shark control methods and urges all Australian governments to use non-lethal methods to protect swimmers.
HSI will present information on the capture of more than 5,000 marine turtles over the life of the Queensland shark control program and capture of 442 loggerhead turtles, a species threatened with extinction, between 2001 and 2013.
Shark nets have been installed on NSW beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong since the 1930s and in September 2016 these nets were extended to the NSW North Coast. Nets and drumlines are found from the Gold Coast to Cairns in Queensland.
Alarmingly, drumlines and nets are even being used in the World Heritage Area Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Scientists at Deakin University confirmed that shark control programs are providing nothing more than peace of mind, at the expense of our marine environment.
Nets are also one of the biggest impediments to the recovery of the critically endangered grey nurse shark, for which HSI secured protection under federal law in 2001.
"The Queensland and NSW shark control programs have both been recognised as one of the main historical causes of decline in grey nurse shark populations. We must also remember that the great white shark itself is a threatened species,” says Ms Morris.
Over the life of the shark control programs, tens of thousands of marine animals have been killed including dugongs, humpback whales, threatened marine turtles and harmless sharks and rays.
A 2011 study by John G. West, coordinator of the Australian Shark Attack File, shows that although there has been an increase in shark incidents per year over the last decade the increase is the natural result of more people visiting beaches, greater access to the water, and an increase in the popularity of water based recreational activities.
HSI welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Shark Mitigation and Deterrent Measures on behalf of our more than 65,000 Australian supporters and we urge the Inquiry to report to Parliament that the nets and drumlines are having an unnecessary and dangerous impact on marine life and should be removed and replaced with non-lethal strategies. HSI's submission can be read here.