ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Shark deterrents and detection: Community perceptions, sentiment and preferences for shark management strategies. (2017)


Collaborators are CSU, University of Wollongong (UOW) and NSW DPI who have provided funding through the NSW Shark Management Strategy (SMS) Competitive Annual Grants Program, $50,000

Research Theme

Rural and Regional Communities


Dr Michael Mehmet and A/Prof Peter SimmonsAssociate Professor Peter Simmons, Dr Michael Mehmet and Associate Professor Rod Clarke, (University of Wollongong)

Photo from left Dr Michael Mehmet and A/Prof Peter Simmons


This two stage project involved researchers analysing community perceptions publicly available in popular social media sites; and conducting interviews/focus groups with key social and economic stakeholder groups with an interest in the ocean or shark management policy.

Discussions were held on the North coast; Mid-north coast; Central coast; South coast; Sydney Metropolitan and Far south coast.

Their main findings were:

  • people preferred to coexist with sharks
  • at populated sections of the coast they expect patrols, surveillance, and some protection from sharks
  • there was very strong support for trialling and developing technologies, devices and other innovations that are non-lethal to sharks and other marine life
  • the shark problem was real but small compared to the fear of sharks which is exacerbated by traditional and social media -clearer communication and education is needed for informed self-protection from sharks, perspectives of risk and about the Shark Management Strategy.


Simmons, P. & Mehmet, M. (2018) Shark management strategy policy considerations: Community preferences, reasoning and speculations. Marine Policy, 96, 111-119

Simmons, P. & Mehmet, M. (2018) Feeding frenzy: public accuse the media of deliberately fuelling shark fear. The Conversation

Callaghan, K., Mehmet, M.I., and Simmons, P. (2018) Facebook and Twitter utility for policymakers. Australian New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference. University of Adelaide, Adelaide (Dec 2018).

Mehmet, M.I., Simmons, P., and Clarke, R. (2018) Sharks, Social Sentiment and Science. International Social Marketing Conference Singapore (July 2018).

Simmons, P., Mehmet, M., Clarke, R. (2017) Shark Sentiment Report: Executive Summary and Recommendations

The Executive summary of the Shark Sentiment report pdf  is here


The findings and final report help NSW DPI to consider trends in community sentiment when deciding policy and targeting communication about policy.


Associate Professor Peter Simmons  

Dr Michael Mehmet

CSU Bathurst

February 2019