NSW GREENS have accused the NSW Government of 'fear-mongering' following its announcement shark drumlines will be trialled off the Coffs Coast.
NSW Department of Primary Industries announced on Tuesday it will hold sessions in Coffs Harbour to provide information on the shark management alerts and real time shark drumlines that will soon be rolled out.
Ten SMART drumlines will be deployed off beaches from Coffs Harbour and Sawtell from Monday, August 14.
DPI's Deputy Director General - Fisheries, Dr Geoff Allan said the six month trial of SMART drumlines is part of the NSW Governments $16 million Shark Management Strategy.
"SMART drumlines are looking very promising as part of the future of shark mitigation measures in NSW as trials have shown they help to protect human life while minimising the impact on marine species,” Dr Allan said.
"They have proven to be four-times more effective than mesh nets at catching potentially dangerous target sharks on the North Coast during our six month trial earlier this year with minimal bycatch of non-target animals.”
NSW Greens marine spokesperson Justin Field has today warned the announcement is adding fuel to the 'ongoing fearmongering' about sharks, and said it risks the public losing sight of the value of predators to natural ecosystems.
Mr Field called on Fisheries Minister Niall Blair to release data showing an increased risk from sharks in the Coffs Harbour region.
"The risk hasn't changed but the Government continues to ramp up the rhetoric. The chance of shark bite remains extremely low and SMART drum lines make it no less likely someone will be bitten,” he said.
"I'm worried the ongoing commentary about sharks is stoking unnecessary public fear where it isn't warranted. We should be trying to cultivate a greater understanding of the important role sharks play in a healthy ocean while educating about the real risks.
"The Greens have supported targeted trials of SMART drumlines and the trials have been promising with low by-catch and mortality rates of caught sharks.
"A major expansion of SMART drumlines requires expensive monitoring and response. Without that response regime, endangered and non-threatening sharks risk being killed on the lines despite them presenting very small risk to ocean users. There are more cost effective ways and less destructive ways to mitigate those risks.”
The SMART Drumlines allows authorities to tag sharks with a tracking device before releasing it again.
An alert is sent out through the SharkSmart app and twitter when a tagged shark is nearby a beach.