Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Greens call for removal of shark nets from Illawarra beaches

“Shark nets are a cruel, outdated form of control that have not been proven to keep swimmers safe,” Ms Whittaker said.

“During the weekend we sadly saw an endangered leatherback turtle tangled in shark nets off Manly Beach, followed shortly after by another very large turtle rescued from the nets at Dee Why. This is unacceptable.

“We know that shark nets catch mainly other species other than sharks. Shark nets are an old method that don’t keep swimmers and surfers safe. The state government needs to remove them from our beaches.”

The $86.4 million dollar Sharksmart program funds a range of measures from drum lines to less invasive drone surveillance that can alert swimmers and surfers to the presence of sharks.

“The program offers education and can also supply trauma kits for a fast response in the event of a shark attack.

“There’s some really great elements in this program that use technology such as drones to warn swimmers of a risk, but currently most of the resources are going into managing drum lines and nets,” Ms Whittaker said.

“The Greens set up a stall at Thirroul over the weekend to talk to people about shark nets and I can say the community sentiment was overwhelmingly in favour of removing the nets. People understand that entering the ocean comes with an element of personal responsibility. Just like we educate about swimming between the flags, we can also help reduce the risk of shark interactions by providing advice about not swimming in murky water, at dawn or dusk or when there are bait fish around, as well as guidance on the range of personal shark deterrent devices available.

“The community told us that they want the government to stop using outdated technology and focus on methods to reduce risk that are kind to the environment, effective and good value. Instead of netting dolphins, rays and endangered turtles off our beaches, we are calling on the State Government to reallocate funds that manage nets, to better resourcing the serious problems that actually are harming the community, such as domestic violence, homelessness and access to healthcare.”

“There are popular beaches right up and down the east coast of NSW that are free from shark nets. Why are they only deployed around Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong? If there was a really high, unacceptable risk of shark interactions they would be at every swimming beach. But they’re not. So let’s stop killing marine life on our city beaches with nets that sharks can swim around, and focus on the tools we have that don’t cause harm and actually work,” Ms Whittaker said.


Story by Mick Roberts in The Bulli & Clifton Times, 21 March 2024.