ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

A study of influences on preferences, tolerances and thresholds of acceptability for shark management options in NSW. (2018-2019)


NSW Department of Primary Industries – NSW Shark Management Strategy, $50,000

Research Theme

Rural and Regional Communities


Associate Professor Peter Simmons, Dr Michael Mehmet, with Dr Belinda Curley (NSW DPI), Kim Wolfenden (NSW DPI) and Kane Callaghan, (PhD candidate)


Attitudes to shark management are influenced by contextual factors that influence perceptions and tolerance of risk, and acceptability of different strategy options.

This project is exploring beach and ocean user attitudes to options for shark management, with a special focus on circumstances that influence perceptions, preferences, tolerances and behaviours. It is using a three stage approach.

Stage One explores social media sentiment (by obtaining publicly available Facebook and Twitter data) to gain insights into dimensions of preference for different shark management strategies, influence on risk tolerances and thresholds for changes to attitude.

Stage Two is using these insights to guide six focus groups conducted with beach and ocean users on north, central and south NSW coasts. It will also explore ‘tolerance’ in areas of significant recent incidents.

Stage Three, informed by stages one and two, will measure specific beach and ocean users’ (eg. surfers and swimmers) tolerance and thresholds for different shark management options.


This research aims to:

  • improve understanding of contextual influences on attitudes to shark management such as:
    • normality, severity, recency and frequency of shark encounters, victim identity, risk tolerance dimensions, tourism, other
  • improve understanding of the desirability of different characteristics of management strategy options:
    • eg visibility, lethality, invasiveness, costs, detection capacity, deterrent capacity, effectiveness, other
  • identify patterns in preference, tolerance and thresholds of acceptability for different management strategy options.


Associate Professor Peter Simmons 

Dr Michael Mehmet

February 2019