James Griffin is being held to account by scientists for his inaction on failed shark net program
2022-11-15 09:51 PM by Envoy: Shark Cull– 8m read
A recently released review by the NSW Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2021/22 Annual Performance Report comprehensively exposes the NSW meshing program for the sham that it is, and has been for decades.
“We are extremely concerned about the findings of the TSSC review of the 2021/2022 Shark Meshing Annual Performance Report, and the continued silence of Environment Minister James Griffin. He was copied in on the TSSC review as far back as September, yet has remained silent on the issue.” said Andre Borell, Founder of Envoy Foundation.
The Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program is allowed to operate due to a Joint Management Agreement (JMA) between the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the former Office of Environment and Heritage, now falling under Minister Griffin. The TSSC, in its review, is very clear that the safety and environmental objectives of the JMA and accompanying Management Plan are not being met.
“Overall, we are extremely concerned that the current management actions are not meeting either of the [JMA] objectives." TSSC review
The TSSC review clearly shows that Minister Saunders, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and Environment Minister James Griffin are responsible and accountable for the program's ongoing failure. The TSSC was scathing at the lack of action from both Ministers as trigger points built into the JMA continue to trip, which indicate the program is not meeting its objectives:
"We are similarly extremely concerned that there was no immediate response to the triggering of two species of turtle in this year’s report; 19 green and 16 leatherback turtles. Loggerhead turtles were also caught. Nets should have been pulled immediately from the areas where catches were made to ensure no further turtles were caught, and yet this did not happen. These species cannot sustain such mortality and better management actions are required to eliminate the increased risk of extinction posed by netting." TSSC review
As a path forward, a media report from 7 November 2022, notes that using SMART drumlines is far more effective "Since March, three great whites and 16 tiger sharks have been tagged at Bondi alone.". This is further evidence that supports the use of SMART drumlines over shark nets, given that the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2021/22 Annual Performance Report notes that only one target shark was caught in the entire Sydney Central region for the entire 2021/22 meshing season (North Narrabeen, Narrabeen, Dee Why, Curl Curl, Harbord, Queenscliff, North Steyne, Manly).
The fact that drumlines catch more target sharks and significantly fewer non-target animals than shark nets is not a discovery. Research at least as far back as 2014 and earlier shows that shark nets are not effective at catching target sharks, and therefore shark nets are not effective at reducing shark bites at netted beaches.
“Cardno (2022) reported 29 encounters at netted beaches in NSW out of a total of 35 encounters since 2000. These data suggest that nets do not eliminate the risks of shark interactions. The consistent annual record of non-target species being caught in nets is of significant concern to the NSW TSSC.” TSSC Review
Of particular significance, this is the first time the TSSC has been so specific about the failings of the NSW shark meshing program and explicitly drawing attention to Environment Minister James Griffin. He has to date, completely ignored the sham that shark nets are, and completely ignored scientific opinion of the TSSC.
“Environment Minister Griffin's silence on this issue is deafening. It is within his power to terminate the ineffective JMA, something we and thousands of our supporters have been asking him to do for months”, said Andre Borell
"He simply ignores campaigners on this issue, and ignores the communities wishes on it - and now we can also say he is ignoring the scientific consensus on it too," continued Borell.
James Griffin has ignored our organisation and the community at every step of the campaign, but how long can he ignore his own government's scientific committee?
Update from Editor: On 14 November 2022, it came to our attention that the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) review of the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2021/22 Annual Performance Report was removed from the Shark Meshing Program (SMP) Publications list on the page https://www.sharksmart.nsw.gov.au/shark-nets. This removal occurred after we highlighted the TSSC review on 8 November 2022. Therefore, the only way to find the TSSC review now is if you know the link noted in this article. In addition, all TSSC reviews of past shark meshing program annual performance reports were also removed from the SMP Publications list.
Let Minister Griffin know it’s time for him to step up and do his job properly by sending him a Tweet and an email. To make it easy, we’ve prepared this Click to Tweet message as well as this pre-drafted email campaign.
Tweet Griffin Campaign 8 November 2022
Click to Tweet Minister Griffin asking him to take action to remove shark nets
Email Griffin Campaign 8 November 2022
Previous unanswered Email Griffin Campaigns
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