Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


The rise and fall of shark nets

Sharks are rapidly disappearing from our oceans. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year. Shouldn’t we try to protect them as much as we can?

But sharks are also considered dangerous wild animals by some. And in these modern times, when  the number of ‘recreation water users’  is still increasing, the number of encounters between sharks and people is rising too. But people are not on the menu of sharks, they are just in the way… Some countries have installed shark nets, trying to ‘protect beaches from sharks’. But are these effective? The sharks can still reach the beaches, as the nets do not cover the whole length of the beach, and do not extend from the water surface to the seabed. 40% of the animals caught inside the shark nets.

Shark in shark net

A shark in a shark net (© Sea Shepherd)

Social scientist Christopher Neff, with whom we have worked for two years with Save Our Seas, wrote during the debate about shark nets in Australia:

” Shark bites on bathers and surfers are a particularly sensitive reality. These are personal and community-wide tragedies that implore us to find adequate solutions. The goal of everyone is to improve shark bite prevention and risk reduction while finding solutions that reflect the values of the public.

Shark culling and shark hunts, as an acceptable government response to beach safety, have been up for consideration. The Western Australia Government’s decision to spend $2 million dollars “to track, catch and, if necessary, destroy” sharks in preemptive shark hunts that would cull sharks from local waters has come under scrutiny. The Herald Sun reported on a new poll on the West Australian website that found that 82% of respondents opposed the new plan and only 13% supported it.”

Shark nets do not only kill sharks, they kill a lot of other sea life. From Christopher Neff’s article: “Government reports show that the species of marine life caught and killed in the nets are overwhelmingly “non-target” species, which includes dolphins, turtles, whales and dugongs. In 2011 in NSW, 61% of the marine life killed in the nets was “non-target” species. In 2010, that number was 64% (read the full article on his site:

In South Africa, the numbers of ‘non-target’ species are overwhelming as well… The preliminary death toll of the nets so far: 2211 turtles, 1508 manta rays, other rays 6940, 2310 dolphins, 26687 sharks, of which many are not dangerous to humans at all… (source:


And recently, there was another problem with shark nets, as was reported in Queensland, where shark nets were torn from their morning along the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, and are adrift along hundreds of kilometres of coastline in southern Queensland. The nets have probably already started their ‘ghost fishing’, something that was described by NOAA:

„Derelict fishing gear, sometimes referred to as “ghost gear,” is any discarded, lost, or abandoned, fishing gear in the environment. This gear continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Derelict fishing gear, such as nets or traps and pots, is one of the main types of debris impacting the marine environment today“ (for more info:

Let us take our own responsibility and protect ourselves through responsible behavior. Read the tips on how to avoid shark incidents (


And what else can you do? Make a start by signing the petitions on the following websites:

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