Ballina MP Tamara Smith has rejected calls for shark culling or nets to keep sharks out of local waters.
In an ‘official response’ to shark concerns, Ms Smith said ‘shark encounters and bites have harmed people we love and have also had a huge impact on our psyche as a community’.
Ms Smith said the Ballina Shark Mitigation working group, of which she is a member, had been central to coordinating surveillance initiatives and a warning program.
The group had also been successful in getting a commitment from the state government for more resources for surveillance, research into why there has been an increase in the number of shark encounters and a local tagging and shark mitigation research program.
‘This will enable us to learn more about local shark behaviours and develop technological and non-lethal deterrents appropriate for our beaches as well as educational programs that keep people in our community safe,’ she said.
Ms Smith rejected calls to install barriers or cull sharks.
‘There is strong evidence to show these policies don’t work or have unintended consequences,’ she said.
‘Southern Cross University shark expert Daniel Bucher, Sea Shepherd, our very own ‘Shark Girl’, along with leading experts in Australia and around the world back this up.
‘Drum lines end up killing non-target species and don’t lead to reduced bites.
‘A culling program was abandoned in Western Australia last year because identifying so called rogue sharks was virtually impossible. ‘
‘Netting is also not a solution.
‘Last year the nets between Newcastle and Wollongong killed 116 animals, of those 64 percent were non-target species including whales, dolphins, turtles and harmless Grey Nurse sharks.
‘Netting is also not a barrier. Nets are short in length and many animals killed are found on the shore side of the net which shows they were caught on their way back out to deeper water.
‘These facts suggest very little protection for people and much collateral and harm for already endangered marine species.’
Ms Smith said she supported the state government’s calls for trials of non-lethal shark deterrents.
Meanwhile, Ballina Shire Council will next week consider a report from staff regarding the council’s response to recent shark incidents.
The report notes that the council had established a standard operating procedure with NSW police and NSW surf rescue to manage the response to shark incidents.
‘The SOP has been deployed 22 times. On most of these occasions, council resources have been required to assist with temporary beach closures,’ the report says.
The report also says that the council has received calls from individuals and groups either for or against shark culling.
‘Our response to this has been to advise that council has not formally considered the question of a shark culling program, however we intend to participate in the Shark Summit and examine all of the options to ensure a preferred strategy is developed that provides the required protection of both humans and the environment.’
A shark summit will be held in Sydney in September or October, and another will be held in Ballina.