NSW North Coast Shark Meshing Trial Report

Report period: 8 Mar - 7 Apr 2017

During the fourth month of the NSW North Coast Shark Meshing Trial, nets were deployed for totals of 16–26 days at five beaches.  The numbers of days nets were deployed reflected available sea and weather conditions. Due to strong winds and large swells, all nets were removed from 8 to 13 March. In response to recent flooding, the four nets from Ballina to Lennox Head were again removed from 29 March to 8 April, while the Evans Head net remained in place.

During their deployments, each net was checked between 10 and 24 times (Table 1).  The contractors are required to check the nets twice a day, but if the weather or bar conditions prevent safe access, then fewer checks are made.

Note: Data are preliminary and subject to QA checks and confirmation of species identities from photos and necropsies.

Table 1. The number of days that mesh nets were deployed at each beach, and the number of times each mesh net was checked between 8 March and 7 April, 2017.

Beach

Number of days nets were deployed

Number of times nets were checked

Seven Mile, Lennox Head

16

10

Sharpes, Ballina

16

10

Shelly, Ballina

16

10

Lighthouse, Ballina

16

11

Main, Evans Head

26

24

During the fourth month, 36 individuals across at least 14 species were caught in the mesh nets. Owing to their decomposition, two whaler sharks and one tuna could not be positively identified to the species level.  In total:

  • sixteen animals (44%) were released alive;
  • twenty animals (56%) were found dead and had tissue samples retained for analyses (Table 2);
  • two target sharks1 (a Tiger Shark and a Bull Shark) were caught; and
  • a further five ‘potentially dangerous sharks’2 were also caught, including three Common Blacktip Sharks, and two unidentified whaler sharks.
Table 2. The numbers of each species caught in the mesh nets that were alive and released, or dead at each beach.

Beach

Species

Number alive

Number dead

Seven Mile, Lennox Head

Tiger Shark

0

1

 

Great Hammerhead Shark

0

1

 

Pygmy Devilray

0

1

Sharpes, Ballina

Unidentified Tuna

0

1

Shelly, Ballina

Common Blacktip Shark

0

2

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

3

1

Lighthouse, Ballina

Unidentified Whaler Sharks

0

2

 

Bull Shark

0

1

 

Australian Cownose Ray

0

2

 

Mulloway

0

1

 

Manta Ray

1

0

 

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin

0

1

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

2

0

 

Loggerhead Turtle

1

0

Main, Evans Head

Common Blacktip Shark

0

1

 

Great Hammerhead Shark

0

1

 

Whitespotted Eagle Ray

2

0

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

2

0

 

Mulloway

0

2

 

Pygmy Devilray

0

1

 

Whitespotted Guitarfish

1

0

 

Australian Cownose Ray

4

1

Total

 

16

20

1 ‘Target sharks’ include White Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks.
2 ‘Potentially dangerous sharks’ are defined in the Management Plan for the NSW North Coast Shark Meshing Trial (Nov, 2016) to include White Shark, Tiger Shark, Bull Shark and the Carcharhinid complex of sharks commonly referred to as whaler sharks and including but not limited to Dusky Whaler, Bronze Whaler , Common Blacktip Shark, Spinner Shark, Silky Shark and Oceanic Whitetip Shark.