Expert warns shark cull won’t solve anything

WORSE THINGS AT SEA: Bond University shark expert Dr Daryl McPhee says we’re more likely to die at the hands of a jellyfish than a shark.
WORSE THINGS AT SEA: Bond University shark expert Dr Daryl McPhee says we’re more likely to die at the hands of a jellyfish than a shark.

YOU are more likely to drown at the beach, be killed by a falling coconut or as a result of a jellyfish sting, than get bitten by a shark.

That's the message from shark expert Dr Daryl McPhee, an Associate Dean of Research at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

He recently delivered the keynote address on shark ecology and shark mitigation at the university's Research Week, which showcases diverse research underway.

Dr McPhee said calls for a shark cull in northern New South Wales was not the short-term answer.

He said it would take 18 months to prepare the necessary documentation and undertake the consultation to meet the Commonwealth environmental assessment requirements and, even then, would most likely be unsuccessful.

"When a series of shark bites occur at a particular location over a short period of time, the issue becomes a societal problem where the government faces heavy pressure to intervene," Dr McPhee said. "We have seen this happen in Western Australia and in Cape Town in South Africa and we are now seeing it happen in northern NSW."

Instead of a shark cull, Dr McPhee said protection enclosures, electrical and chemical deterrents and "shark spotters" programs were better options.

He has also authored a report into the effectiveness of shark deterrent and detection methods.

He said it was a "rapidly advancing" field, but warned there was still no magic bullet.

"If an individual chooses to use a personal deterrent, such as an electric deterrent, they should consider one that has been independently trialled and tested and choose a deterrent that suits their particular circumstances," Mr McPhee said.

"Mitigation must be a mix of personal decisions and government action, however the government should not and cannot be expected to reduce the probability of a shark bite to zero.

"The probability of an unprovoked shark bite is extraordinarily low ... you are much more likely to drown at a beach than be killed by a shark. Indeed, globally more people are killed by falling coconuts and jellyfish stings, than by sharks."

Topics:  attacks cull lismore northern rivers shark sharks

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