January figures for the second shark net trial revealed no target species were caught by the nets.
January figures for the second shark net trial revealed no target species were caught by the nets. Supplied

Bad weather meant shark nets left unchecked

FIVE marine animals died after getting caught in North Coast shark nets in the third month of a controversial NSW government trial, including a common dolphin.

Rough weather conditions meant the nets were not checked daily, and caught a total of 30 animals, none of them targeted species.

During January 2018, nets were deployed for 27 fishing days at five beaches and each checked 14 times.

The nets were out of the water from January 15-18 due to poor weather forecasted.

From this 25 (83 per cent) were released alive and five (17 per cent) were deceased.

The survival figures were up from 56 per cent in December.

The five found dead included two great hammerheads, one common dolphin and two cownose rays.

During the entire second shark net trial, which started November 23 2017, 29 non-targeted marine species have been found dead in the shark nets, which have caught one targeted species - a bull shark, which was released alive.

DPI authorities have been criticised for not trying harder to ensure nets are checked at least twice daily to reduce the risk of animals dying.

Le-Ba Boardriders President Don Munro, an avid surfer in the Ballina shire and prominent advocate of the trial, told The Northern Star last week weather conditions this summer should not have stopped contractors from checking nets.

"DPI relies on weather forecasting from the Bureau of Meteorology," said a spokesperson in response.

"Weather, swell and current conditions prevented twice daily net checks on a number of days."

New research released by CSIRO last week revealed around 5500 great white sharks are lurking in the waters off Australia's east coast, of which 750 are estimated to be adults.

In NSW, they have had mesh nets at more than 50 beaches with no fatalities at a protected beach since 1951.

While more recently, New South Wales has also started using SMART drum lines as a non-lethal means to protect the public with great effect.

SMART drumlines reports for the month of January 2018 have not yet been released.

DPI were contacted but were not able to provide comment before going to print.