Stab Magazine | Shark Nets Planned For Northern NSW Despite Total Fact-Void
517 Views

Shark Nets Planned For Northern NSW Despite Total Fact-Void

The crapshoot continues on the NSW North coast.

news // Oct 16, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Two attacks in recent weeks have yielded decisive action from the NSW State Government who will now rush to introduce shark nets across the NSW North Coast – the area encompassing Ballina and Byron Bay. 

After being forced to abandon his original ‘eco-friendly’ shark barrier strategy halfway through completion earlier this year, NSW State Premier Mike Baird will now employ traditional shark nets alongside 85-100 ‘smart’ drum lines on the North Coast. The strategy is almost identical to Queensland’s shark control program, which has been in play since 1962. QLD, whose state line begins just over an hour from the North Coast has, according to ABC, had just one fatal shark attack on a controlled beach since the program was implemented in 1962, compared to 27 fatal attacks between 1919 and 1961. 

In other parts of NSW, where shark nets are used, there was an average of one fatal shark attack every year before the nets being introduction in 1936. There has been only one fatal attack on a protected beach since then and that was in 1951. 

Of the decision, Mike Baird wrote on Facebook:

“Opponents of nets rightly point to the fact they can also kill dolphins, turtles and other marine life. And no one wants that. But supporters will point out the fact they have effectively protected beaches from Wollongong to Newcastle for decades.”

“Although the north coast community isn’t unanimous about this, the feedback we get is that the sentiment has shifted, people have had enough of the shark attacks and are now determined to trial nets. Local businesses have been suffering – especially tourism – and as we approach summer, people want us to take action.”

“Yes, I remain conscious of the environmental concerns but, ultimately, protecting human life has to remain the government’s priority.”

The broader North Coast community, meanwhile, remains as split as ever.  Ballina Greens MP, Tamara Smith, told Byron Shire’s The Echo Newspaper, that she did not believe sentiment had changed along the North Coast and that most were still in favour of “non-lethal methods” to mitigate shark attacks. 

 

1476512782373

A whale calf stuck in a net on the Gold Coast last Saturday. Photo: Sea World

 

“I call on the Premier to fund a shark spotting program by local group Shark Watch and to invest in developing technologies that go with surfers to improve their safety,” Ms Smith said.

“I ask the Premier to consider the safety of all ocean users and to fund non-lethal methods such as shark spotting instead of thinking only about his poll numbers and trying to win the next election,” she added.

Speaking to ABC radio, Ballina Mayor David Wright called for more information along with vigilance on behalf of the authorities administering the nets and drum lines. 

“One way around it would be to have a fisheries boat standing by, or available to be able to release any dolphin or whale or sharks that get caught,” he told ABC radio.

When the great white was first lifted onto Australia’s endangered list in 1994, scientists at the time agreed the data that put them there was inconclusive. Specifically, it was meshing (shark net) records for New South Wales and Queensland; game fishing records from New South Wales and South Australia; and anecdotal sighting frequencies by tourism operators and divers in South Australia – all of which reported declining catches and sightings that led to great whites protection. And so the debate wages on the remains of little conclusive data reguarding shark numbers and behaviours.

The problems with the data were many: there had been changes in shark meshing regimes over that period which could have skewed findings; the fishing efforts of certain commercial operators may have changed; not to mention the fact next to nothing was known at the time about the migratory patterns of great whites. Then there was the contentious nature of the report. While it anecdotally cited a decrease in great whites, the report also included contradictory evidence telling of a rise in great white numbers in certain parts of the country. Two decades on, we’re none the wiser about shark numbers or their behaviour. 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Red Bulls, Crypto Bears, Former’s Six-Figure Fish, Tyler’s Multi-Millions And More

A brief catalog of the latest surf industry news and whispers.

Jan 31, 2023

20:37

“Definitely The First Time I’ve Gone Surfing Via Plane”

Parker Coffin, Harrison Roach, and friends tear through NZ on Roark's most well-rounded surf trip…

Jan 30, 2023

Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different

With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…

Jan 29, 2023

WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’

Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?

Jan 29, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners

Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence

Jan 28, 2023

Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth

A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.

Jan 27, 2023

Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video

He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.

Jan 27, 2023

Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions 

They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.

Jan 27, 2023

38:24

The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5

Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.

Jan 27, 2023

Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise

Can you guess who?

Jan 26, 2023

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it's the right thing to do, of course.

Jan 26, 2023

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

Jan 25, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela

Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…

Jan 25, 2023

“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”

How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…

Jan 24, 2023

Everyone Went.

A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…

Jan 24, 2023

Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event

Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.

Jan 23, 2023

23:26

Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers

Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film. 

Jan 23, 2023

On-Duty North Shore Lifeguard Luke Shepardson Wins The Eddie Aikau

Local man prevails over 39 big-wave heavyweights at 29ft @ 19 seconds Waimea.

Jan 23, 2023
Advertisement