Unprotected wildlife: Flawed Joint Management Agreement rolls-over without public consultation

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2023-02-28 5:48 by Envoy: Shark Cull

The NSW Shark Meshing Program (SMP) is allowed to operate due to a (JMA) between the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the former Office of Environment and Heritage, now the Environment and Heritage Group (EHG) within the Department of Environment and Heritage. The agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved in the meshing program and is reviewed every five years to ensure it meets its objectives.

The latest JMA review was due at the end of 2022 with the recent outcome being that the agreement continue without addressing major issues of concern.

“Overall, we are extremely concerned that the current management actions are not meeting either of the [JMA] objectives."

The NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), in a report of 2022, found that the JMA was. However, despite the failings of the JMA to protect swimmers and threatened and endangered species, the JMA has been rolled over by DPI and EHG without any amendments or public consultation.

No public consultation despite Senior Ministerial Adviser assurances

Our records show that in a meeting on 19 July 2022, a Senior Policy Adviser to the Minister for the Environment confirmed that the JMA would not be rolled over and assured us that the JMA would be updated and public consultation would occur before finalising.

In September 2022, the TSSC found that the JMA was not meeting its objectives.

On 22 February 2023, DPI confirmed that the 2017-2022 JMA had been rolled over, presumably for another five years without public consultation, stating that:

'The JMA has been subsequently reviewed by DPI and EHG (as Parties to the Agreement) with the major outcome being that the JMA not to be amended, and trigger points need to be reviewed as part of the Management Plan.'


'as the JMA document is not being amended/redrafted then there is no public consultation required. The Management Plan (as mentioned) is the operational document and can be amended at any time once all Parties agree and it is endorsed by the FSC [Fisheries Scientific Committee] and TSSC. If you have suggestions/ideas for potential changes to the Management Plan, then perhaps provide those to the FSC and/or TSSC.'

As noted in the DPI advice above, the trigger points are another significant issue relating to the JMA. The current trigger points in the JMA are inconsistent and overly complex. In addition, when a trigger point is tripped, it is not always clear what measures the government agencies are taking to mitigate the threat. The TSSC, in its September 2022 review, was highly critical of how DPI and EHG respond when .

For those you might not be aware, trigger points refer to a specific threshold or level of environmental damage that, when reached, triggers a response from regulatory agencies to mitigate or prevent further environmental damage.

Envoy Foundation investigation into the NSW Shark Meshing Program

The recent Envoy Foundation investigation into the NSW Shark Meshing Program (SMP) concludes that no scientific evidence supports the SMP as an effective strategy to keep beachgoers, swimmers and surfers safe. Furthermore, public opinion opposes shark meshing at beaches for various reasons, including but not solely due to the killing of marine animals, impact on the marine environment and disturbance to marine ecosystems.

The most threatening aspect of the SMP remains at the heart of the program. The shark nets capture and kill many target and non-target animals, including threatened and protected species.

Although governments may have some responsibility in keeping beachgoers, swimmers and surfers safe, community members are entitled to accurate and transparent information and government engagement channels to make informed decisions about how to interact with the marine environment and to have a say in how the marine environment should be protected.

Have your say

Whether you are a scientist, a conservationist, an environmentalist or a concerned community member, we urge you to write to the NSW and the NSW to highlight your concerns and provide your suggestions regarding changes to the NSW Shark Meshing Program.

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