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

Let’s just remove all Shark Nets

Greens Candidate for Lord Mayor Jess Whittaker is ramping up calls for the State Government to remove shark nets from all Wollongong beaches before the 2024-2025 swimming season.

The Illawarra Greens will host a documentary film and question time this Saturday at Thirroul Community Centre with local experts on how bad shark nets are for wildlife such as dolphins and sea turtles. The event begins at 3pm.

Greens State MLC Cate Faehrmann will speak at the award winning documentary, Envoy: Shark Cull, with guest speakers Laura Wells and Dr Rob Brander.

“People of the Illawarra were horrified to see drone footage of a bottlenose dolphin fatally entangled off Thirroul beach earlier this year,” Jess said “The NSW Labor government is responsible for this silent slaughter of marine life in shark nets because they have refused to take action since winning government and replace this old and cruel technology with evidence-based, environmentally sensitive strategies of shark management.” 

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 an attack.

“I’ve been concerned about shark nets for a while now, because this approach to management forces us to fight against the environment. We can’t afford to keep relying on old ways of managing sharks when we know it is harmful and these have been shown to cause a great amount of suffering to native animals,” Jess said

Before the ALP gained power in NSW, Member for Keira Ryan Park said in 2019: “It is hoped that ongoing research, trials, and development of these technologies will reduce our reliance on traditional means of protecting bathers from shark attack. If trials of new technologies are proven to improve safety outcomes for swimmers, Labor will support the reassessment of shark nets to move towards non-lethal new technologies. Labor will be ready to act, based on research and evidence. Labor will continue to advocate for proven protections that keep both swimmers and marine life safe.”

“So far they haven’t despite having plenty of research and evidence before them,” Jess said.

“It’s disappointing that Labor has power in NSW and they are unwilling to act based on evidence. Instead of killing dolphins, rays and endangered turtles, we are calling on the State Government to reallocate funds to programs that will benefit the community without harming our precious wildlife. We know that shark nets catch mainly other species. 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 event will be held 3pm Saturday 22 June at Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre and is free to attend. Tickets can be reserved here