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December 3, 2021

North coast mayors to consider shark deterrent strategies

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Mourners gather at a memorial for shark attack victim Tadashi Nakahara. (file pic)
Mourners gather at a memorial for shark attack victim Tadashi Nakahara. (file pic)

Darren Coyne

Mayors from Ballina, Byron and Tweed will meet with shark experts on 18 March to devise a strategy to protect north coast beach users from attacks.

Ballina’s mayor David Wright told Echonetdaily that the group, noNSWsharkcull, had approached him asking for the meeting to discuss non-lethal deterrent strategies.

41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark earlier this month. (supplied)
41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark earlier this month. (supplied)

The meeting comes after 41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a Great White shark that tore his legs off at Shelly Beach, near Ballina, earlier this month.

It was Australia’s fourth fatal shark attack in five months, and the second in waters around Ballina.

Since 1905, there have been 33 attacks and seven fatalities in Ballina waters.

The day before Tadashi was killed, another surfer was bitten by a bull shark while surfing at Seven Mile Beach near Lennox Head.

Cr Wright said the young surfers who tried to save Tadashi had shown incredible bravery.

‘The shark was still in water and chasing one of them while they were trying to save Tadashi,’ Cr Wright said.

He later told fellow councilors that the eight surfers who took part in the rescue would be recommended for a state award to recognize their actions.

‘We’ll be doing something about that later on but for now our concern is with their welfare,’ he said.

‘Only two of the eight have been back in the water since the attack.

‘The surf club has offered to use a jet ski or rubber ducky to take them out and get them back in the water and I think they’ll take that up.

Cr Wright said the council was also encouraging the young surfers to take advantage of a 10-visit counseling plan.

‘I’m still personally worried that these young people might think it’s wrong to get specialist advice but they need it, and they need to get back in the water because they’ve all been surfing for a long time,’ he said.

Ballina mayor David Wright. (file pic)
Ballina mayor David Wright. (file pic)

Cr Wright said there had been no suggestion that netting or culling should be used to ward off attacks.

‘We are looking at other deterrents and are willing to try things like sonic wrist bands– willing to try things like wrist bands which put out a sonic boom which is like ‘”hitting the shark in the nose”,’

‘Surfboard-makers are also looking at putting these things on boards but as surfers often have a few boards it could be quite expensive.

‘When the marine rescue tower is in place we could use that as a look-out for Lighthouse Beach and South Ballina, and there’s been a suggestion to use Pat Morton Hill as a look-out when the water temperature changes.

Other measures could include a beach warning system, with sirens used to warn people when a shark had been spotted, more beach patrols, and boats used to patrol out the back of surfers.

He said large warning signs had been used to inform beach goers that the beaches were closed following the attacks, although some of the signs had already been stolen.

North Coast mayors will meet with shark experts to devise strategies to prevent attacks. (File Pic)
North Coast mayors will meet with shark experts to devise strategies to prevent attacks. (File Pic)

‘I think those are the sort of protocols we’ll be looking at,’ he said.

‘There’s been no thought of netting. We have 15 kilometres of beaches and netting traps a lot of other things like dolphins,’ he said.

‘Not one person has mentioned to me about trying to hurt the sharks. ‘

Cr Wright said the recent attacks had attracted widespread media attention.

‘I’ve done 53 interviews (since the attacks) on television, radio … right around the world,’ he said.

Tadashi’s memorial service was also well attended.

‘That memorial service on Shelly Beach for Tadashi was one of the most moving I’ve seen and to have people turn up from places like Port Macquarie and the Gold Coast who never even knew him, just for respect for a fellow surfer, I thought that was incredible,’ he said.

Cr Wright said the council was considering erecting a memorial to Tadashi, which was likely to be a bench seat with his name on it.

In response to the attacks in Ballina shire, the spokesperson for NoNSWsharkcull, Sharnie Connell, called on the NSW Premier Mike Baird, if re-elected, to honour his election promise to commence trails of non-lethal shark mitigation programs all along the NSW coast as soon as possible.

‘There is no scientific evidence that shark nets or drum lines actually keep people safe,’ Ms Connell said.

‘On the contrary drum lines attract sharks to popular beaches where people are swimming and shark nets have been responsible for killing two young people who became entangled and drowned in them, one in NSW and one in QLD.

‘It is timely that the NSW fisheries department have released an app based education program to educate ocean users of the potential risks associated with shark interaction and what steps they can take to reduce their personal risk.

‘We ask that this program be extended with multilingual information displayed permanently at beaches throughout NSW.’

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  1. ‘Not one person has mentioned to me about trying to hurt the sharks. ‘

    Aw, poor sharks, imagine someone trying to hurtsy-wurtsy the poor sharks! By all means let’s have a vote on shark culling. It’s certainly got my vote.

  2. Get Real! aside from vegetarians (a very low percentage of population) most people eat fish and commonly shark.
    Having a seasonal shark cull of the coast is not a moral wrong as some want us to feel. I wonder how many swimmers/surfers killed would it take for peoples misplaced guilt trips to be appeased. Some might say those who protest now will have blood on their self righteous hands next time.
    Sorry but as a surfer of Shelly beach its a bit much to hear those away from direct experience of this nightmare preach such moral untruth.
    An organized and authorized seasonal shark kill along the coast will not cause extinction of these sharks and is the only way to assure a substantial risk reduction. All the other gadgets don’t work, they just make people feel better.
    Yes there needs to be a proper debate on this but so far all I hear is the voices of the ridiculous. Case in point being ‘don’t swim or surf because its the sharks territory’. I hope those people appreciate antibiotics more next time they need them. Certainly they won’t be sanctimoniously protesting ‘virus rights’ when their child is on deaths bed.

  3. Congratulations on addressing the shark issue. I suggest we invite or PM to take part in every surf carnival. I am sure every shark worth his teeth would stay well clear of our beaches.

  4. Our product, the Anti Shark 100 Deterrent Canister has gained a lot of traction in the US over the past 18 months and is now available in Australia.

    Our target markets are scuba divers and the spearfishing industry but we also feel that the product can be utilised by surfers also.

    All the details, history and videos of our product in action are available on our website.
    Head to sharktecaustralia.com.au to check it out and feel free to contact us with any questions.


    SharkTec Australia

  5. That makes great sense for a country with a coastal population and a nation of swimmers and surfers.
    The Fisheries recommendations are just the same rehashed ones put out by Taronga Zoo and which are useful as tits on a bull.
    Time for a total rethink on shark attack mitigation strategies.
    See what this meeting turns up.

  6. we are all opinionated for good, some the goodness of wanting to preserve family and freinds from attack , some mourn the endangerment of species and loss of natural habitats, its all a conflict for what we believe is the common good. If you dont spend a lot of time in the ocean or your children dont, you may sway toward :the enter at your own risk philosophy” if not, you probably think the loss of a sharks life is minute compared to the loss of a humans life.


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