Operation Apex Harmony: Our Approach

Monday, 21 Jan, 2019

Worldwide, sharks are facing many threats including finning, fishing bycatch, commercial fishing, recreational fishing and shark ‘control’ programs. With your support, we are currently focused on the removal of the lethal shark bite mitigation methods used by Queensland and New South Wales Government programs and on fishing activities in the Great Barrier Reef that impact sharks.

Defending Marine Wildlife

Using our main asset, the small boat Grey Nurse, we actively monitor shark nets and drumlines in Queensland and New South Wales, bringing transparency to the programs by recording images and footage.

Through investigation and documentation, Apex Harmony sheds much needed light on the destructive nature of state-sanctioned shark control programs — bringing our message to the public and empowering Australians to help protect sharks and other marine life. 

Our volunteers are mostly from Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Sydney.

Our work in New South Wales

In New South Wales there are 51 shark nets located off beaches in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. Since shark nets were installed in 1937, tens of thousands of animals have died, representing a major impact on the marine environment. The nets do not protect swimmers and surfers from shark interactions. On the contrary, they tend to give beachgoers a false sense of security, despite the fact they are only in the water eight months of the year and 14 days each month. 

In a campaign against a trial of shark nets off five Ballina beaches in northern NSW between December 2016 and May 2018, Operation Apex Harmony shone a light on this ecologically-destructive program through filming and documenting dead and dying creatures, including loggerheads, dolphins, rays and grey nurse, hammerhead and other non-target sharks in the nets. Articles and images of the campaign appeared in local, national and international media. More than 200 animals died in the trials, with a third trial abandoned following a dramatic drop in community support. 

New South Wales Shark Control Program Facts

Shark nets in NSW are removed during half of the whale migration season. Despite this, 2018/19 data shows that shark nets in NSW were 'damaged by whales' 13 times.

- 238 marine creatures died in NSW shark nets between September 2018 to the end of April 2019.

- 94 per cent of all animals caught during the 2018/19 were non-target species, including rays, dolphins and turtles. 

Our work in Queensland

Queensland remains the primary battleground for Apex Harmony’s campaign to end the culling of sharks on drumlines, and the suffering and death of sharks and other marine animals caught in shark nets.

In Queensland waters, 235 drumlines and 27 shark nets have been installed.  Despite growing public opposition and clear evidence that it does not make swimmers safer, the government has stated its intention to continue with the program. 

Followed a sustained campaign by Apex Harmony to bring to public view the suffering and death of marine life caused by nets and drumlines in Queensland, the Queensland Government has established an exclusion zone within 20 metres of any shark control equipment. Despite this, Apex Harmony continues to campaign for the introduction of available technologies, such as drone surveillance, that are proven to be effective and have no impact on marine life. In its expanded shark control allocation of $17.1M, the Queensland Government provided just $1M for research on new technologies with no indication that these technologies will be non-lethal. Much work has, and is being done, including the compilation of data and the production of video stories. 

Facts about the Queensland Shark Control Program 

- Estimates from shark control programs suggest that the number of large sharks has declined by 72-97% in Queensland.

- The Queensland Shark Control Program has been implemented since 1962. 

- Shark nets remain deployed throughout the whale migration season resulting in many entanglements. 

Our Work in Western Australia 

In 2014, Operation Apex Harmony exposed the brutal cruelty of the controversial WA shark cull program that took place between late January and April. 

Despite the harrowing footage, the millions of dollars required and the community outcry regarding this initiative, the Western Australian Government applied for a three-year extension of the program. Sea Shepherd, along with No Shark Cull Inc. The Greens (WA) and Labor (WA) played an instrumental role in the prevention of static drumlines being used after the three-month trial. By bringing transparency to effects of this program - and its failures - as well as utilising Sea Shepherd supporters to appeal against the three-year proposal, the campaign finally had a win when on the 11th of September 2014, the Environmental Protection Authority recommended that the program cease due to its unknown environmental impacts.


Facts about the Western Australian Shark Control Program 

- The WA Government ceased its controversial drumline program.

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