Protesters against shark nets. File photo.
Protesters against shark nets. File photo. Contributed

'Shark nets work', says surfing club president

UPDATE 5.10PM: LEBA Boardriders president Don Munro said in his opinion "the nets work", and until alternative methods are ready they should stay.

"I do not like bycatch, no one likes to see that but in the 90 years the nets have been running they haven't wiped out a single species," Mr Munro said.

"If it's going to save human life - we're the apex predator - so be it."

"The nets were introduced 90 years ago and there has been one fatality in 1952… the deaths leading up to the nets put in were shocking."

Mr Munro said three years ago when the region experienced a spate of attacks the tourism industry "stopped".
"The tourism industry and therefore the economy were affected and you just can't do that.

"No one likes to see by-catch but at the expense of stifling an economy it's just stupid."

He said he was pushing the DPI regularly to push alternative initiatives "where humans and marine life can co-exist".

"I'm more than happy to rip the nets and drums out as soon as we have an initiative… until then statistics have proven (the nets work)."


INITIAL 3,55PM: A SENATE inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrence measures has found shark nets should be phased out and lethal drum lines should be "immediately" replaced by smart drumlines.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who chaired the Senate Environment and Communications Committee's inquiry, said the inquiry was established following concerns that shark nets were rolled out on the NSW North Coast without any federal environmental impact assessments.

The inquiry's final report was released yesterday, after 10 public hearings across Australia.

"We heard from ecologists, local communities, agencies, surf life saving organisations, first-responders and shark bite victims," Senator Whish-Wilson said.

"This is the most comprehensive report on shark encounter risk and mitigation methods carried out in Australia.

"There is a pressing need for policy-makers across the country to consider how to respond to shark bites objectively and critically, using evidence-based approaches.

"That is what this report attempts to do, without fear or favour."

Senator Whish-Wilson said the committee heard that shark nets caught and killed marine life like turtles, dolphins and whales, and endangered sharks like the grey nurse shark.

"We heard no evidence that shark nets remove or materially reduce the risk of shark bites," he said.

"What is clear to me is that the hodge-podge of policies around the country is guided by politics, rather than by evidence and consultation.

"The major recommendation of this report is 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.

"The Committee has also concluded that any state currently using fixed lethal drum lines should immediately replace them with smart drumlines, to reduce the impact on marine life and also to gather better evidence about shark ecology."

Given the "intense politicisation of debate about this issue", the inquiry's report went to the "unusual" step of outlining major shark-related myths and "discussing whether those myths have any basis using evidence presented throughout this inquiry".

These myths include that:

  • The shark population has exploded
  • Sharks target humans as prey
  • Killing 'rogue' sharks will solve the problem
  • The presence of sharks in an area mean that an attack is likely
  • Lethal measures stop human-shark encounters.