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Faculty of Arts and Social Science Department of Government and International Relations

Are Australian Shark Nets Worse than Japanese Whaling Boats?

Christopher Neff PHD Candidate

Outline Outline 1.) Thank you’s 2.) My job tonight 3.) Your job tonight 4.) Background data 5.) Politics

6.) Shark Attacks 7.) Net data 8.) Findings 9.) Questions


I. Thank you


II. My job tonight My agenda:

1.) There is no way to study the politics of shark attacks and not affirmatively address shark nets as a policy. 2.) Schneider and Ingram (1993) – “policies that fail to solve problems or represent interests and that confuse, deceive or disempower citizens do not serve democracy”. 3.) "If meshing alone were used, I fear it would prove to be of little value. Worse, it would probably lull the public into a sense of false security." William McKell, NSW Premier (19411947).


III. Your job tonight

› Consider the data as an independent researcher.


Together -- Being Objective

› This is an academic conversation; › Discovery – rather than advocacy; › Good people can disagree; › Most often there are two sides to a story; › Sources: Government and peer reviewed data only.


IV. Background data Basics: 1.) What is a shark net? 2.) What is meshing? 3.) When did it begin? 4.) Why? 5.) When did sharks become protected? 6.) What is the impact of the nets?


What is a shark net? › “The program aims to cull populations of large aggressive sharks adjacent to metropolitan beaches, and thus minimise the potential for shark attack on swimmers (NSW Scientific Shark Protection Summit, 2006: 6). ›


V. Politics - Sharks Critically endangered species: › ml › Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) - East coast population [1984, NSW] › Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis) Endangered species › Northern River Shark (Glyphis garricki) Vulnerable › Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) - West coast population › Whale Shark (Rhincodon typhus) › White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) [1996, NSW] › Dwarf Sawfish, Queensland Sawfish (Pristis clavata) › Freshwater Sawfish (Pristis microdon) › Green Sawfish, Dindagubba, Narrowsnout Sawfish (Pristis zijsron)


V. Politics - Whales 28 May 2010 Australia will initiate legal action in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Japanese 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean. The decision underlines the Government's commitment to bring to an end Japan's program of so-called 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean. It also demonstrates our commitment to do what it takes to end whaling globally. 2010/fa-s100528.html


V. Politics Japanese Justification of Whaling and Australian Justifications for Nets “The Japanese Government requests that the international community recognise that: 1.Stocks of certain whale species such as Minke whale are scientifically proven to be not endangered; 2.The limited, sustainable use of such whale species does not pose any overall risk to stocks, and 3.The Japanese Government is strongly opposed to uncontrolled commercial whaling.”

› NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 › “S.8 Fisheries Closure Notificationtaking of White Sharks prohibited by all methods in all waters except approved shark meshing contractors for scientific purposes.” › s/publications/gwsharkplan/pubs/greatwhiteshark.pdf apanese_governments_position.htm


VI. Shark Attack Data: 1900-2008


VI. Shark Attack Data AND Shark Cull Data


2009 Shark Meshing Program Report comparison on shark culling and shark attacks

› "the annual rate of attack was the same both before and after meshing commenced.� (p. 27).


VII. Shark Net Cull Data

“The degree to which beach meshing is impacting on White Shark populations is unknown although the decline in captures suggests it is significant.� (2002 National Plan of Action, p. 12). 15

VII. Net Data – Target vs. Non-target data


Additional Data to Consider

› NSW: Bycatch data shows more white sharks are caught by inadvertent fishery practices than by intentional shark nets.

› NSW: Efforts have recently been made to reduce mortality of endangered species in the nets and efforts are made to reduce bycatch of non-target species in the nets. › NSW: Studies by scientists have shown that the mortality rate of white sharks caught in the net do not endanger the species overall. › QLD: Tagging has occurred to two white sharks caught in the nets.


Additional (additional) Data to Consider

› The trigger for more nets is set up to be low. › The trigger for sharks for less nets is set up to be high. › 40% of sharks are on the swimmers side › Nets were removed for three years (1943-1946) with no fatal shark bites at those beaches.




The data show that the shark culling in NSW has not reduced the rate of shark bites;


The data show that there does not appear to be a relationship between shark culling and shark bite prevention;


Over the past three years, 57% of the wrong target species has been caught and killed;


54 white sharks have been culled on the east coast since 2008; and


Most of the white sharks culled happened during times when there has never been a fatality;


Measures are taking place to reduce bycatch; and


Tagging has occurred on some sharks caught in the nets.


Thank you – Questions!


The politics of shark nets - Chris Neff, USyd  
The politics of shark nets - Chris Neff, USyd  

Chris, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Department of Government and International Relations unpacks the historic...