Experts say shark nets put whales at risk

Whale being rescued at Burleigh Heads. Source: Michael Dawes via Flickr

Whale being rescued at Burleigh Heads. Source: Michael Dawes via Flickr

LUCINDA KENT

The Department of Fisheries says the use of shark nets along the Queensland coast is justified, despite whales getting caught in them.

An endangered humpback whale was caught in shark nets off Noosa on the Sunshine Coast earlier this month.

The Department’s Acting Director of Shark Control Mark Saul says the department will continue to use the nets off 85 Queensland beaches.

“That’s the first whale that we’ve had trapped in the shark nets this year,” he said.

Mr Saul says only four whales have been caught in the nets in the past 3 years.

“Between marine animal release team staff and also our contractors, we release any catch that occurs as quickly as possible and in general most are released alive,” he said.

However, Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides says the nets are a threat to all marine life and should be removed during whale migration season.

“Shark nets don’t just catch sharks as we’ve seen – they catch whales but also other threatened species like turtles and dugongs,” he said.

Mr Kindleysides says shark nets are flawed with up to 40% of sharks being caught in nets found on the beach side.

“They simply do not physically prevent sharks from getting to our beaches.”

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