Swimmers warned about carcass in shark net

Image of a shark entangled in a shark netImage of a shark entangled in a shark net. Archive 2017

A deceased marine life carcass was washed into the netting out from Umina Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) last week with swimmers and paddlers warned to stay close to the shore.

Umina SLSC first notified swimmers of the carcass on January 19 with the warning that it may attract additional marine life to the net.

On January 20 due to surf conditions, Umina SLSC advised that it was not safe to clear the nets with swimmers still recommended to stay close to shore.

It comes after animal welfare and conservation groups warned about the dangers of the Shark Meshing Program, which is managed by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), with nets viewed as more of a safety hazard, rather than a safety solution.

The program operates 51 nets from Newcastle to Wollongong, including at Umina, Killcare, Terrigal and Avoca beaches.

A Marine Biologist for Humane Society International Australia (HSI) Lawrence Chlebeck said shark nets are worse than a false sense of security.

“Not only are they unable to reduce the risk of shark bite, they can increase the risk by attracting opportunistic predators to the area,” Chlebeck said.

“It’s long past time to move on from the nets – there are better ways to reduce the risk of shark bite such as drone surveillance and alert systems.”

Since the launch of the DPI’s trial on September 1, 2009, 217 sharks have died on the Southern end of the Coast between 2009 and April 2019 as a result of the shark nets.

The HSI reported last year that nearly 400 non-target animals have also been ‘killed’ on Central Coast beaches since 2012 as a direct result of the 11 shark nets currently in use.

Of these, 330 were threatened or protected species, such as dolphins, turtles and rays.

Andre Borell, the Director of a new, hard-hitting documentary about the implications of Australia’s shark culling program, said this was a clear example of what his documentary warns about.

It’s great that Umina SLSC have warned their local community that something is caught in the shark net,” Borell said.

“This is a known shark attractant, as they find an easy meal [so] people need to be aware of this.

“These nets shouldn’t even be there creating this risk.”

The documentary, Envoy: Shark Cull, can be streamed on Stan.

It’s reported the carcass was removed from the shark nets on Sunday, January 23.

Maisy Rae