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Protecting marine life from shark nets

shark nets
A turtle drowning in the shark nets.

Shark nets and lethal drumlines kill thousands of marine animals every year in Australia. In Queensland, more than 80,000 marine animals have died as a result of the state’s shark control program. This includes dolphins, whales, turtles, dugongs, rays and critically endangered grey nurse sharks.

Around the world, countries are phasing out the use of lethal nets and drumlines. AFD is on the frontline with this movement in Australia. Our team has been working with local organisations, scientific experts and decision makers in Queensland and New South Wales to advocate for the implementation of non-lethal shark mitigation alternatives. 

We are working alongside Councillors and Members of Parliament to provide the scientific support and expertise needed to migrate to more effective shark mitigation measures that don’t harm marine life.  We have hired an enormous mobile billboard to raise awareness about the high levels of by-catch caused by the nets, aired radio ads and coordinated a number of organisations and scientists to write an open letter to the Fisheries Minister.

Entering_Noosa
Giant billboard in action on the Sunshine Coast.

There is a lot of misinformation about sharks, so our campaign also focuses on educating and changing the public perception surrounding these amazing animals. This includes partnering with high profile conservation advocates such as Paul de Gelder, a former navy clearance diver and shark encounter survivor. We know that changing hearts and minds often takes time. So we also meet face-to-face with members of the community, local groups and hold information sessions about the issue.

Shark nets have been proven to be an extremely inefficient way of protecting beachgoers - catching only one target animal for every 72 non-target animals.  A shocking 23% of all animals killed in the Northern NSW trials belonged to a species classified as threatened with extinction (according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List). These are species such as the critically endangered grey nurse shark, whose populations or habitat have been reduced to such an extent that they are at high risk of disappearing from the wild forever. 

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