Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dolphin killed by net!

The dolphin was found on Monday as contractors checked the nets, which are located near the middle of the beach.

It became trapped and drowned despite acoustic "pingers" installed on all nets by 2003 to keep dolphins and whales away.

Avalon resident Chris Bray photographed the contractors as they removed the dolphin.
"After they had finished checking the net they just drove off with the dolphin lashed to the side," he said.

Humane Society International spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said the death of harmless sea creatures in nets was a common occurrence, with a dugong caught and killed in nets off Queenscliff beach three weeks ago.

"I would expect most Sydneysiders to object to the lethal shark nets when they realise that innocent dolphins, rays and other harmless species are common victims," Ms Beynon said.
Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said the dolphin's death did not change the NSW Government's commitment to the meshing program.

"The Whale Beach incident marks the first dolphin killed in the nets this season," he said. "While this particular case is unfortunate, it does not change the Government's position on the overall benefits of the beach meshing program."

Last year 123 sharks were caught in nets along with two dolphins and two turtles.

Ms Beynon said that between 1995 and 2004, 72 of the sharks considered most dangerous to humans – great whites and tiger sharks – were caught, while many other harmless species were also killed.

Next month the minister will meet with shark experts, lifesavers and fisheries officers for a "shark summit". But the shark meshing program, in place since 1937, will not be discussed, with talks focusing on understanding shark movements and breeding.

Kristopher Lim of Oceanworld Manly said it was believed the dugong, which is usually found in warmer waters, had been caught in stronger than usual east-coast currents ahead of the recent Queensland storms.

"It's not unheard of (for dugongs to be found near Sydney), especially as the water down here has been so warm," Mr Lim said.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"