Sharks are an ancient species with some fossils dating back over 400 million years. They play a crucial role in the food chain and creating a healthy ocean environment. Sadly, due to culling and overfishing many species of shark face extinction.
Shark attacks a tragedy but don’t deserve tabloid sensationalism
As a keen surfer, Pete knows that while every injury or death from a shark encounter is a tragedy, these events do not deserve the tabloid sensationalism they are given, and that when we enter the ocean, we choose to be in the shark’s habitat.
Our efforts to net, catch and cull sharks as a response does not have an impact on these encounters, and has led to the deaths of thousands of other ocean species. Only through using evidence-based approaches that help us understand shark (and human) behaviour, can we start to find ways forward that protect us and avoid needlessly killing marine animals.
Pete chaired the Senate inquiry into Shark mitigation and deterrent measures. He established this inquiry following concerns that Great White sharks were likely to be delisted from EPBC protection and the impending new rollouts of shark nets in northern NSW without any federal environmental impact assessments.
Shark Nets And Drum Lines
Shark nets and drum lines are notorious for killing species other than their target shark species, and there is a lack of evidence that shark nets remove or materially reduce the risk of shark bites. Shark nets do not seek to enclose beaches to prevent sharks accessing beaches, but rather seek to entangle and kill sharks.
In the process the nets also catch and kill marine life like turtles, dolphins and whales, and endangered sharks. Similarly, drum lines do not discriminate which species they hook.
The report is the culmination of 10 public hearings right around the Australian coastline from Perth to Cairns. The committee heard from ecologists, local communities, government agencies, Surf Life Saving organisations, first responders and shark bite victims.
It is the most comprehensive report on shark encounter risk and mitigation methods carried out in Australia. The report notes that technology is rapidly developing in terms of personal and whole-of-beach scale deterrence devices, and along with drones and phone-apps, this allows us to set a timeline for the full withdrawal of shark nets around the country.
Placing the protection of all species from lethal shark culling practices in front of policy-makers across the country to consider how to better respond to shark bites objectively and critically, using evidence-based approaches.
An end to the use of shark nets and baited drum lines that kill both sharks and many other ocean species.
The continual education of the public regarding the devastation that lethal methods have inflicted, and awareness of other ways to reduce shark encounters that avoid killing marine life.
A national body established to gather evidence and test the usefulness of emerging technology and information that can establish non-lethal methods of protecting humans from shark encounters, and also protect our precious marine life from unnecessary harm.
Any state currently using fixed lethal drum lines should immediately replace them with smart drum lines, to reduce the impact on marine life, and also to gather better evidence about shark ecology.