Calls for shark nets to be removed at Australia’s busiest beaches – just months after a man was mauled to death by a shark while swimming
- Waverley mayor wants shark nets removed from eastern Sydney beaches
- Nets installed along beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong each summer
- Paula Masselos has argued that shark nets really aren’t actually very effective
- Comes just six months after Sydney’s first fatal shark attack in 60 years
A mayor has led calls for shark nets to be removed from Sydney‘s world-famous beaches this summer to protect marine life, just months after a man was mauled to death.
Waverley mayor Paula Masselos has divided opinion on her push for beaches in Sydney’s east to go without nets this summer, including Bondi Beach.
Beaches will be without shark nets for the first time since they were introduced 85 years ago if the mayor gets her way.
The calls come six months after former British RAF engineer Simon Nellist was mauled to death in front of horrified beachgoers at nearby Little Bay by a 4.5metre great white shark during his daily swim.
It was Sydney’s first fatal shark attack in 60 years and prompted the Department of Primary Industries to install 15 SMART drumlines from Little Bay to Bondi.
Simon Nellist (pictured) was mauled by a shark in a unprotected stretch of water near Little Bay in February
More than 50 nets are usually installed along beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong from September to April.
But Cr Masselos said locals are ‘very concerned about the bycatch’ getting caught in shark nets and argued they’re ineffective.
‘Shark nets are only 150m long. They’re 6m high and set at a depth of about 10m. They’re not there to actually create a barrier between swimmers and sharks, but they sort of help disrupt some of the swimming patterns,’ she told the Today show on Thursday.
‘We actually often see sharks on the inside of the shark nets. When you look at Bondi, it is actually a kilometre long. So the shark net isn’t creating a huge barrier at all.
I think it’s actually creating a false sense of safety. There are other technologies like smart drumlines and aerial surveillance that are far more effective in spotting sharks and advising people.’
She told Sky News’ Chris Kenny on Wednesday night that in the ten years to 2019, only 19 sharks dangerous to humans were caught in the nettings,’
‘There were more than 140 non-target sharks and other marine species such as dolphins, dugongs and turtles that were actually caught in these nets,’ Cr Masselos said.
Waverley Council mayor Paula Masselos wants shark nets to be removed from beaches this summer, including world famous Bondi
The comments come a day after fellow Waverley councillors backed her mayoral minute for the council to introduce drones this summer to give lifeguards more comprehensive surveillance of beaches.
‘The reality is we are in a marine environment, and we share it,’ Cr Masselos said.
She earlier tweeted: ‘Very soon our professional Waverley lifeguards will be using shark spotting drones to keep swimmers & surfers safe in the water.
The issue has divided local beachgoers.
Shark nets have been installed along popular beaches in NSW since 1937. Pictured is a great white shark
‘Crazy! I wouldn’t be going swimming without shark nets,’ an early morning swimmer told the Today show on Thursday.
But another argued: ‘They kill a lot of animals out there, sealife, and I think they should take them down.
There has been just one fatal shark attack at protected beaches in NSW,
‘While the nets cannot provide a guarantee that a shark interaction will never happen, we believe they have been effective in greatly reducing the potential number of interactions,’ it told the Daily Telegraph.
The Department of Primary Industries to installed 15 SMART drumlines from Little Bay to Bondi after Sydney’s first fatal shark attack in 60 years. Pictured is Little Bay