A Great White Shark swims past a diving cage off Gansbaai about 200 kilometres east of Cape Town
A Great White Shark swims past a diving cage off Gansbaai about 200 kilometres east of Cape Town. Hunted to the brink of extinction in the 1970's and 1980's, the Great White is now a protected specis in many parts of the world. In South Africa shark cage diving forms a growing business in the eco- and adventure tourism industries. Reuters/Ho New

Humane Society International (HSI) has expressed today their dismay at the NSW government's decision to install smart drumlines on the NSW north coast. The organization praised the government’s plans to incorporate non-lethal technology to detect sharks, including aerial patrols and lifeguard towers but reprimanded the installation of these deadly devices.

"Our view is that Smart Drumlines are an unnecessary and lethal addition to the Government's plans for shark management in NSW,” said Jessica Morris, a resident marine scientist in HSI. “These could result in the deaths of many non-target species such as hammerhead and grey nurse sharks, both of which are protected in NSW.”

This technology will be installed initially at Ballina, where a surfer was attacked on November 11 and near where a Japanese surfer was killed on February 9. Mike Baird, premier of NSW, declares that the high-tech drum lines are more humane than the lines that have been used in Queensland and Western Australia.

The NSW marine environment boasts a diverse range of species, which is relied upon by eco-tourism in areas such as Ballina and Coffs Harbour. Hence, Morris argues that smart drum lines would endanger these animals and disrupt the ecosystem in these places. Additionally, the traps placed in WA, Reunion Islands and Queensland lines trap more turtles and dolphins than white sharks.

"The experts have told us these are the technologies that have the potential to lead to a long-term solution to keep our beaches safe and minimise the impact on marine life," claimed Baird, ABC News Australia notes. He adds that the Government's decision was based on science, not emotion.

HSI seeks legal advice and also appeals to Commonwealth Environment Minister Greg Hunt to summon the trial under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999. They also want to see in writing the NSW government’s proposal for the trial, including the application of trigger limits to ensure that species mortality will result in the termination of these devices.

HSI urges the Government to abandon their plans and focus on non-lethal technology such as eco-barriers and aerial surveillance instead. Unlike the drum lines, these options have little or no ecological footprint and are more effective in protecting people.

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