Deakin University’s associate professor Laurie Laurenson and his team found that the shark nets used on Sydney beaches are useless and are not as impenetrable as they are thought to be. The new analysis has been drawn from 50 years of data on shark control programs and coastal population from New South Wales and South African Shark control program.

Laurenson said that the likelihood of shark attacks could not be reduced by reducing the density of the sharks in the region.

“I can show statistically that there is no relationship between the number of sharks out there and the number of shark attacks,” he told the ABC’s “Four Corners.” “It’s just simply not there, I’m surprised that it’s not there, but it’s not there.”

The researcher further said that installing shark nets off the New South Wales beaches have reduced shark attacks but none is linked to the number of attacks could be found. According to him, the findings are required to be tested by government agencies, but one practical difficulty to that is the rarity of shark attacks.

“They’re rare not only in places but across time,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying. “It’s a bit like lightning it doesn’t strike in the same place twice and if it does it’s very unusual.”

He added that the belief that nets could prevent sharks from trespassing into the shallows was a common misconception.

“When you put a net out there it does not block the sharks from approaching the beach,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying. “They are not barriers to sharks. Sharks can swim around them under them. They can avoid them. That has to be made clear – they are not barriers. They are ways to reduce the number of sharks. People jump into the water thinking, ah, there’s shark nets they can’t come to the coast. That’s not the case.”

However, the findings have been challenged by NSW chief shark scientist Vic Peddemors, who said that the NSW government is preparing a likened statistical analysis.