Shark Net Trial Criticised as Bycatch Increases

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A marked increase in bycatch during the second month of shark meshing trials has led to renewed calls for trials to be scrapped.

The latest figures released by the State Government showed the nets installed at five beaches between Lennox Head and Evans Head snared 72 animals over the last month.

Of those 32 animals died including a great white shark, a bottlenose dolphin, a green turtle, and a loggerhead turtle. Ten hammerhead sharks and 18 assorted rays also died.

The catch is up significantly from the first month of the trial, when 43 animals were caught.

Greens MP Justin Field said the bycatch level was unacceptable.

He said the meshing trial should be abandoned in favour of non-lethal shark mitigation measures.

“It involves resourcing our lifeguards better, investing in community observer programs and developing personal deterrent devices,” Mr Field said.

“These are the sorts of things that were recommended in the Government’s own report.

“That’s the direction we should be heading — away from killing sharks and other animals.”

Ballina councillor Keith Williams, who is also active with Australian Seabird Rescue, said he was appalled by the figures.

“It’s hard to see how it could be worse,” he said.

“In the last month we’ve caught one of the target species but killed 32 other marine species that are not what we’re after.
“Many of those are protected.

“This has been our concern with the nets all along.”

Source: ABC News

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