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August 2, 2021

Ballina mayor wants sharks tagged, not culled

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A shark resembling a great white, spotted by a Channel 9 helicopter near where a man was attacked by a shark at Ballina last Thursday. Photo Twitter/ Channel 9
A shark resembling a great white, spotted by a Channel 9 helicopter near where a man was attacked by a shark at Ballina last Thursday. Photo Twitter/ Channel 9

Darren Coyne

Ballina’s mayor David Wright thinks tagging sharks may be the way to prevent further attacks at local beaches.

Cr Wright said he was ‘totally against shark culling but the tagging system is working in Queensland’.

Recent shark attacks have garnered national and international attention, and Cr Wright said Ballina had the opportunity to be ‘leading the way’ with shark deterrence strategies.

Meanwhile, the Skullcandy Oz Grom surf contest at Lennox Head will continue until Wednesday despite ongoing fears of shark attacks.

The first day of the popular contest, which has attracted almost 300 young surfers, was cancelled after Thursday’s attack on a surfer at North Wall, and a second shark encounter at Lennox Head on Friday.

Organisers and Ballina Shire Council organised unprecedented surveillance for the contest to allay the fears of surfers and parents.

That has included a fixed-wing plane and a helicopter, backed up by on-the-water support including two jet skis, an IRB, a jet boat and 24 rostered surf lifesavers on patrol.

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

‘Governments need to take action because we’ve had four attacks within five kilometres in five months, he said.

‘It’s not something to be proud of but we’ve got to do something to prevent them,’ he said.

Following an attack which killed a Japanese surfer earlier this year, both Tweed and Ballina shire mayors met with the NSW nosharkcull group, lifeguards and Sea Shepherd.

Cr Wright said the plane being used as part of the surveillance of the surf contest had been brought up from Sydney as a result of those talks.

It will be leaving tomorrow and helicopters will continue to patrol local beaches.

Meanwhile, Cr Wright said a debrief would be held at the end of the event to discuss further strategies, although plans were already in place for next year to have a drone monitoring the beaches.

‘A drone will keep the costs down next year and also provide footage which will be beamed all around the world,’ he said.

He rejected a suggestion from Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis that north coast beaches should be netted, saying it was impractical.

‘We have 15 kilometres of beaches … we’ve got to come up with other solutions.’

He called for a nation-wide approach to managing the risks of shark attacks, but said Ballina could lead the way.

Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall said a regional approach needs to be taken because of the large shark sightings and attacks in Ballina and for the three coastal councils in NSW’s north east to take a regional strategy to shark monitoring.

Meanwhile, friends and relatives of Mathew Lee, who has been fighting for his life in a Gold Coast hospital since being attacked at North Wall on Thursday, gathered on Saturday at North Wall.

About 100 people attended the event, donating money to help with Mr Lee’s medical costs and to sign a bodyboard that will be presented to Mr Lee to show the community’s support.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Tag a killer shark! Will that ensure it never kills again? The Ballina mayor surely must be kidding! The minority of killer sharks give non killers a bad name. Best to kill it! Common sense rare in politics!

  2. BLAAH BLAH BLAH… Theres been too many attacks and deaths, how many more before someone acts. Put in some short term measures at least while some decent research is being conducted. Every time there is a death the politicians talk it up and nothing happens until there is another death.

    Ballina has had the most east coast attacks/ deaths and is far from leading the way, the’re well behind. When was the last time there was a shark attack on gold coast or sunshine coast surf beaches?

    Put some funding into some personal protective equipment. There are some small companies having a go and need some government backing. We have hover boards now, surely we can get some proven device to scare sharks off.

    Remember at the end of the day people come before sharks! If there was wild animals running around out of the water killing and attacking people the government would have them culled or destroyed.

  3. People don’t need to surf. They have a choice whether or not to go in the water. Sharks have no choice. It’s their home.
    When sharks come out of the water and start walking the streets I’ll be the first to say ‘Let’s take action”.

  4. Tagging, watching and monitoring the white and bull sharks around Ballina/Byron is not going to stop attacks.There are so many of them at present and its hard to know what is around each time you enter the ocean.The local Ballina mayor, the funny looking guy, has no idea, his views and suggestions will just waste money like the previous Labor government. Sure, aerial patrols are a start and these should have been occurring years ago, just like they do on the Gold Coast each day of the year. However, what we do have in Ballina and other coastal areas are professional fisherman who know the ocean and they could easily remove excess whites and bull sharks which stray to close around the surf breaks and shoreline. Also, bait drums can be set up and monitored to manage the large number of sharks up and down the coast. These measures can be put in place now and which are relatively affordable until they come up with some better options as this could take some time, knowing how government departments work and the huge amounts of money used to engage outside consultants, which is our (taxpayer) money after all. At present,entering the ocean is not unlike entering some waterways in the far north of Australia which are filled with crocodiles. What is the value of human safety? How many more attacks on innocent bathers,swimmers,surfers,divers,both young and old must occur while we wait for some practical measures.

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