Dead dolphin sparks calls to remove Coast shark nets
RENEWED calls have been made to remove shark nets from Coast beaches during whale migration season, after a bottlenose dolphin was killed in nets off Noosa's Main Beach.
Local jetski tourism operator Jonah Cooper spotted the dead "sub-adult" dolphin entangled in nets at about midday on Wednesday.
"This individual is a sub-adult member of the pod that plays out here with me almost daily," Mr Cooper said.
Its death has sparked calls from Sea Shepherd Australia's Queensland Apex Harmony co-ordinator Jonathan Clark for the State Government to remove shark nets during whale migration season, aligning with New South Wales' existing policy.
"This entanglement has occurred just as the humpback whale migration begins to bring these magnificent creatures close to this very net," Mr Clark said.
"Queensland tourism derives huge benefit from marine wildlife including dolphins, whales, turtles and rays that are continuously caught in these nets that provide a mere false sense of security."
Mr Clark questioned how well pingers reported to be on shark nets were protecting whales and dolphins.
"Sea Shepherd calls on the Queensland Government to remove shark nets during whale migration season as does New South Wales as a first move towards their future replacement with modern non-lethal mitigation methods that actually work," he said.
A media spokesman for Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said there were currently no considerations being made to remove shark nets during whale migration season.
In 2016 the Queensland Shark Control Program recorded non-target species captures of four loggerhead turtles and one humpback whale off Rainbow Beach, two bottlenose dolphins off Maroochydore Beach and four loggerhead turtles off Buddina Beach.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said it was a difficult discussion, as he could understand both sides of the debate.
The former Margaret River Tourism boss over in Western Australia said the spate of shark attacks on WA beaches had a significant impact on tourism and the public's approach to beaches.
He said shark nets gave people a sense of security here, and the attacks in WA had been a PR turn-off.
"It really affects people," Mr Latchford said.
"People should be able to go for a swim and should be able to swim safely."
Mr Latchford added he wasn't saying every beach in the world should be netted, and firmly believed a balance needed to be struck.
He didn't believe the safety of the public should only come at the cost of other marine life, and vice versa.
"People largely feel very safe swimming here," he said.
"We need to work harder and smarter at a solution."
Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause said he'd received no report of a dolphin death in a shark net at Noosa on Wednesday, but there had been one recorded at Noosa on May 3.
He said the equipment would not be removed during whale migration season, adding it was "sometimes removed during rough weather for safety reasons".
"The equipment remains in place throughout the year as sharks are active along the Queensland coastline year round, and Queensland's beaches are also a regular, popular destination for swimmers even during winter," Mr Krause said.
"The aim of the Queensland Shark Control Program is to make beaches a safer place for people to swim. Human safety must come first and that is why the Queensland Government is committed to the Shark Control Program."