Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Shark nets fail to protect swimmers on Australian beaches - research

SHARK nets used at most Australian beaches to protect swimmers do nothing to reduce the chance of being attacked, a new research has revealed.

Analysis of data compiled over 50 years by Laurie Laurenson, from Victoria's Deakin University, has found no correlation between the population of sharks and the number of attacks.

Laurenson suggested that measures such as nets and drum lines that were designed to lower shark populations were not making people any safer.

"I can show statistically that there is no relationship between the number of sharks out there and the number of attacks," Laurenson said in comments published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

"It's just simply not there ... I'm surprised that it's not there but it's not there."

Barry Bruce, a shark expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), said while shark nets have caught sharks it does not mean they have prevented attacks.

"If you're dead you can't bite anybody. What we don't know is whether that shark would have ever bitten anybody and we don't know how many sharks swam through that area that didn't get caught," Bruce said on Tuesday.

A net, such as those used on Australian beaches, is a fishing device rather than a barrier, Bruce said.

"It's a couple of hundred meters long, there might be two at a beach which is many, many kilometers long. They are set at a depth offshore where they don't reach to the surface so thy only come up six meters or so from the bottom in 10 meters of water. In some respects you have to be an unlucky shark to get caught," he said.

  • In a three-month period in 2014 drum lines in Western Australia (WA) caught 172 sharks, 163 of which were tiger sharks and none were great whites.
  However, Laurenson's data reports that tiger sharks have not killed anyone in WA for over 20 years.

There were 18 recorded shark attacks in Australia in 2015 according to the International Shark Attack File published on Tuesday resulting in two fatalities in New South Wales and Tasmania respectively.
  Xinhua - shanghaidaily.com


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