Sea Shepherd found an endangered female loggerhead turtle in the shark nets off Ballina.
Sea Shepherd found an endangered female loggerhead turtle in the shark nets off Ballina. Sea Shepherd Australia

Where are the survey results from second shark net trial?

IT'S been more than two months since the second round of shark nets were pulled from North Coast beaches to make way for the migrating whales, but the community is still waiting on the results from the survey.

The "ridiculous" waiting time has community and marine conservationists angered.

During the trial, which ran from November 23 2017 until May 2 2018, each net was fished for a total of 148 days (not consecutively) at five beaches across Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head, and caught 145 animals from 17 species, with an overall survival of 60 per cent.

Among the casualties were four dolphins, two green turtles and an endangered leatherback turtle.

Just two sharks from targeted species - bull sharks - were caught during this second trial.

 

TANGLED UP: This sub-adult bottle nose dolphin was killed in shark nets off Noosa's Main Beach on Wednesday.
TANGLED UP: This sub-adult bottle nose dolphin was killed in shark nets off Noosa's Main Beach on Wednesday. Contributed

The community survey closed on May 18.

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith said the results from the second trial showed the nets were "ineffective".

"I don't know why it takes months but I can only speculate the community opposition is even stronger," Ms Smith said.

"The bottom line is if it actually worked and kept people safer then I would have to go to my party and say 'we need to look at this, this could actually work to keep people safer', but that's not what the science is showing.

"The millions spent on these two trials could've been spent on shark watch and the drone technology they are now rolling out.

"But those drones are still only for patrolled swimming beaches. According to science, surfers are the only people who have a (slim) risk of a shark encounter. So we've still got nothing for surfers apart from Shark Shield, which is still being tested.

"If you say you're going to be guided by science, be guided by science."

Ms Smith said the surveys were a "public relations test".

"If you're going to build something, you want experts. You don't ask members of the community 'do you think we should use this?'

"We've got scientific experts telling us what works and what doesn't. The community survey is an opinion, not scientific.

"But we've got people in good faith who contributed their thoughts, what's the hold up?

"It should be transparent, it's public information. It's not something they should be sitting on."

The first North Coast Shark Mesh-Net Trial was conducted between December 8 2016 and May 30 2017.

During this time nine target sharks were caught from a total of 275 animals (3 per cent of the total catch). Four sharks were released alive.

The community survey from this period revealed, of Ballina Shire and Evans Head residents, 46 per cent were positive before the trial, and 33 per cent were positive after the trial, with bycatch a key concern.

Sea Shepherd spokeswoman Allyson Jennings said they were wondering when the results would be made available to the public.

"The second trial nets were put in but that was not reflective of the first community survey where there was a 33 per cent confidence in the nets," she said.

"You've got 67 per cent of people not wanting them but they went in anyway."

Ms Jennings said the second trial should never have happened.

"The amount of bycatch for 11 target sharks over two trials is unacceptable.

"The nets aren't keeping people safe and are indiscriminately killing animals.

"We've recently witnessed in Queensland a whale was entangled in the net and a white shark actually came up and started attacking the whale in the net.

"Where is the public safety in leaving animals in the nets which attracts sharks?

"Ideally we don't want the program to continue but NSW government do exercise due diligence with taking the nets out for the whale migration period.

"It's been two months now. How long does it take to draft these results, the community need answers.

"After this second trial a third trial shouldn't even go ahead."



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