The state government is set to begin trials of ‘smart drum-lines’ off the coast of Ballina today in an effort to stop shark attacks in the area.
The lines use GPS buoys to send alerts when sharks have been hooked, so they can be tagged and released away from the shoreline.
Their introduction follows two fatal attacks and three maulings since September last year.
An eco-barrier is expected to be installed at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach early in the new year.
Far North Coast Shark Action Group spokesperson Don Munro, recently told media he was in favour of drums lines as a short-term measure.
Mr Munro recently told a government inquiry that he had “never seen a community so shaken up and cautious about entering the ocean”.
Mr Munro said it was time for positive action to rebuild confidence for the tourism industry, adding that he had “friends in the industry” who felt a financial impact with each shark sighting.
Not everyone is happy with the introduction of drumlines.
Sea Shepherd Australia national shark campaign coordinator Natalie Banks said a scientific review had raised questions about the effectiveness of the lines to catch white, tiger or bull sharks.
‘Smart drum lines which have been used in Le Reunion, France have not been independently tested regarding their effectiveness or their impacts on a range of marine life within Australian waters,’ Ms Banks said.
‘Additionally, the review highlighted concerns of how to manage larger sharks and whether these sharks will need to be killed or towed out to sea.’
She said Sea Shepherd was surprised that the New South Wales Government had moved forward with the drum-line option.
‘It appears to me that we continue to repeat the same mistakes from the past in terms of shark management in Australia, instead of looking to programs that have scientifically proven to work in other jurisdictions,’ Ms Banks said.
;Shark Spotters which has been in place within Cape Town, South Africa for nearly eleven years, has been scientifically proven to work, after spotting over 1,700 sharks which are mainly White Sharks, and having only one fatality during a low-visibility day.’
Shark Spotters was also the only program that the scientific review by Cardno recommended as a initiative that could be implemented immediately.
‘Why the New South Wales Government has ignored a review that they commissioned, is beyond me,’ Ms Banks said.