Is It Time for Maroubra to Get Rid of Shark Nets?

Maroubra is among the 51 beach locations where the Shark Meshing Program is being implemented. Do you think it’s time to get rid of the shark nets?

Some NSW coastal areas could soon be ditching shark nets altogether if plans of letting each council area decide for itself pushes through.

Agriculture Minister Dugald recently confirmed that the state government is in talks with councils about the future of the current shark bite mitigation program. Among those who have shown strong support for the removal of the shark nets is Central Coast MP Adam Crouch, and if he could have his way, he would like his electorate to be the first region to do so.

Wollongong’s Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery also expressed his support for the proposal stating that there are better approaches to protecting both human life and the marine environment.

Randwick Council is also calling for a change in the current shark net program and expressed their full support for the additional shark mitigation measures including SMART drum lines and listening stations by voting to take part in the trial.

Grey nurse shark
Photo Credit: The original uploader was Jlencion at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.5 <>/Wikimedia Commons

Since 1937, shark nets have been deployed on Sydney’s beaches as a measure to reduce the risk of shark attacks. The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) manages the deployment of these nets at 51 NSW beaches, including Maroubra, from September to April each year.

A 2021-21 Annual Performance Report, however, showed that out of the 376 marine animals that were caught in the shark nets during the period from 1 September 2021 to 30 April 2022, an overwhelming 85 per cent or 325 were non-target animals.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Photo Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>/Wikimedia Commons

Threatened or protected species that were caught includes 28 white sharks, 14 green turtles, 16 leatherback turtles, 14 grey nurse sharks and 4 loggerhead turtles.

Moreover, during the period, there was one reported human-shark interaction at a meshed beach involving a surfer who was bumped by an unidentified shark at Maroubra Beach in early March 2022.

Also, there were seven verified interactions at unmeshed beaches, three of which happened in the shark meshing region including a spearfisher who was uninjured after fending off a white shark at Magic Point, Maroubra (just one kilometre south of the closest meshed beach) in March 2022.

Early this year, the NSW Government announced that it will invest an additional $85 million in shark mitigation technology including SMART drum lines and SMART listening stations.

Controversy Arises Over Shark Nets in Maroubra Beach and Other Areas

The local community at Maroubra Beach and other northern beaches are wholly against the proposal to remove protective shark nets at local beaches, citing safety concerns

Recently, Randwick City Council received a motion to phase out shark nets around eastern Sydney’s beaches, saying that these could also trap other non-harmful marine creatures like turtles and other fish.

Greens MP Lindsay Shurey proposed to have smart drum lines in place of the nets to lessen the harmful impact of the barriers on the sea animals but Liberal councillors rejected the motion. In a post on Facebook, the nippers explained why they don’t support the proposal.

Photo Credit: SharkSmart NSW Government

“For the record, Maroubra Beach is approximately 1.2km wide from point to point. From the shoreline approx 400 metres outwards, we have a series of shark nets placed strategically to help protect swimmers and surfers from the risk of shark attacks, we’ve had no attacks for many many years at Maroubra,” the post stated.  

“The protected area for humans on Maroubra Beach is limited to a relatively small area of the beach/ocean where a series of nets are strategically placed in channels (not entirely across the beach) blocking pathways for sharks from approaching shallow areas where people are likely to be located.” 

The nippers also said that whilst drumlines work in regional areas, Maroubra Beach is different because it is frequented by beachgoers every day. The nets helped fend off a white pointer in Maroubra Beach as 1,200 school children were holding activities in the water.  

“Your club is conscious of protecting sea life however not at the expense of children and others & until the technology is able to replace nets thereby protecting people we strongly reject the proposal to remove physical barriers.”

It comes as drone footage controlled by a Maroubra local caught a juvenile predator, the great white shark, on the hunt for a stingray miles off the tourist beach. Whilst the video caught such spectacular behaviour, other commenters on social media said that the shark could have easily breached the barrier.

Meanwhile, experts reminded beachgoers of some basic ways to avoid a shart attack:

  • Never go swimming alone, especially at dawn or dusk
  • Avoid swimming in areas where there are lots of fish
  • Don’t wear jewellery as it can catch light and attract the predators