End the use of shark nets and drumlines in Australia.

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Australia's sharks need your help!

Contact the MPs today who have the power to protect sharks in Australia. Encourage them to implement non-lethal alternatives that will help protect beach-goers, sharks and other marine life.

A view from underwater looking up at a shark

Australia's sharks need your help!

Contact the MPs today who have the power to protect sharks in Australia. Encourage them to implement non-lethal alternatives that will help protect beach-goers, sharks and other marine life.

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Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 11 January 2022

Sharks play a vital role in keeping our oceans healthy, and yet these often misunderstood animals are being put at great risk of suffering and death because of misconception and fear.

The vast majority of sharks pose no threat to humans — and encounters between ‘dangerous’ sharks and people are incredibly rare. A better understanding of these uniquely fascinating animals will play a vital role in keeping both sharks and people safe — as well as protecting our precious marine ecosystems.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A shark caught in netting.
(Image credit: Envoy: Shark Cull)

Why is this an issue?

Coastlines across Australia are becoming increasingly dangerous places to swim for sharks. Despite the fact many shark species are in decline along the coast of WA, QLD and NSW, sharks are being trapped in nets, painfully hooked and killed in an attempt to reduce encounters with beach-goers.

Every year in New South Wales and Queensland, shark nets and drum lines are set just 500 metres from the beach. These are designed to “protect” beachgoers who use the water for recreational activities. The problem is these devices don’t offer any protection whatsoever. Shark nets do not create a barrier for people to enter the water, they barely cover half the depth of the water they are set in! Drumlines are just baited hooks that stand alone in the water. Neither prevent sharks from swimming over, under or around them.

But experts have warned that these cruel measures won’t work, and that they’ll only further dwindle the numbers of threatened and endangered species, like Great Whites, Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks. If that weren’t bad enough, shark netting and baited hooks also threaten countless non-targeted marine animals, like dolphins, turtles and even whales

Since the introduction of shark ‘control measures’, thousands of protected sharks — including many who did not pose any threat to humans — have died along Australia’s shorelines. With non-lethal control methods already available, such as shark enclosures, deterrent devices and air patrols, it’s time for the governments of WA, QLD and NSW to recognise that sharks don’t deserve to be hunted down and killed.

A cruel death

Drumlines are large baited hooks attached to chains and a buoy to attract sharks. Animals caught on these hooks, including undersized sharks, non-target species of shark, as well as other marine life can suffer for hours before being discovered by patrols.

Shark nets are often submerged along popular coastlines. But, despite public misconceptions, shark nets don’t keep sharks out, they kill them. In fact, many sharks caught in these nets are actually found on the shore-side. Sharks need to keep moving in order to breathe, so when they become tangled in nets and are unable to swim, they may slowly suffocate to death.

Collateral damage

While shark nets are designed to allow smaller fish through, any number of marine animals, including seals, dolphins, dugongs, and turtles can become twisted up, injured and can even drown in nets. In 2021, a humpback whale calf needlessly suffered after becoming tangled in a shark net off a Sydney beach. It took multiple agencies and over 4 hours to free the whale.

Although baited hooks are less likely to kill non-target species than nets, animals such as dolphins and turtles can still get caught, as can those sharks who pose no threat to humans. In fact, in 2017/18, 5 species of shark, all considered endangered or threatened, were caught – of the total 130 animals, 104 were killed.

Do shark nets have a positive use?

In short, no — they provide no effective mitigation to human and shark interactions.

Shark nets and drum lines are classified as fishing devices and their use is legislated under Fisheries legislation. Shark nets entangle a vast array of marine life including turtles, dolphins, whales, and even other sharks. Once caught, these animals understandably become distressed and this attracts larger sharks closer to shore for an ‘easy meal’.

Drum lines are fishing hooks, they too just bring sharks closer to shore. We only need to look at Bondi beach in New South Wales for a good example of how ineffective these methods are. Bondi beach spans approximately one kilometre and is “protected” by one 150 metre net, which does not even reach the water’s surface.

Avoiding an encounter

Most people will never see a shark at a beach – and the chances of having an encounter with one are incredibly low (in fact you’re more likely to be killed falling out of bed!). However, there are many ways that we can all enjoy Australia’s beautiful beaches whilst improving our personal safety – you’ll find some vital information here. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that sharks are not the ‘bad guys’they are trying to survive like any other wild animal, and we are simply visitors in their ocean home.

Speak out for sharks

Use the form above to contact MPs in NSW and QLD and tell them that Australia’s sharks need our protection. Encourage them to implement non-lethal alternatives that will help protect beach-goers, sharks and other marine life.