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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

North Coast surfers push for limited shark cull

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Migrating whales, baitfish and marine parks are causing a ‘McDonalds drive through’ situation for sharks that has the NSW north coast surfing community scared.

That’s according to Don Munro, president of the LeBA (Lennox-Ballina) Boardriders Association, who called a meeting that was last night attended by about 200 surfers and other community members.

They came from Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Evans Head.

Mr Munro said the general consensus of the meeting was that a limited shark cull was required to remove sharks causing problems in local waters.

He said seven large sharks had been identified hanging around the area, and they should be removed.

‘There are other things we’d like to see implemented but the general consensus was that we need controlled management of sharks, not wholesale slaughter,’ Mr Munro told Echonetdaily.

‘Surfers are very conscious of sharing the ocean but the situation is not getting any better,’ he said.

‘Since they stopped culling 17 years ago we’re now seeing the results of that.

‘The juveniles are now very big sharks, fish stocks are declining, there is more baitfish around, and the marine parks are bringing them in.

‘It’s creating a McDonalds drive-by situation for the sharks.’

Mr Munro said the increased shark activity in local waters was also having a major impact on local businesses.

‘We’re the shark hotspot right now and the community wants to see something happening,’ he said.

He said a number of initiatives were put forward at the meeting which would be acted upon.

They included setting up a webpage with information so that people could be properly informed about the situation, and it would also be used to encourage people to sign petitions calling on the state government to act.

Another initiative was to set up an education program so that young people were better informed about what to look out for in the water, such as the presence of baitfish, birds, dolphins, and also when sharks were most active.

Such a program could operate in schools, but also on local beaches, Mr Munro said.

Ballina’s mayor David Wright attended the meeting, along with Inspector Cameron Lindsey from the police. They are both members of a committee that has been working to develop strategies to prevent further attacks.

Cr Wright said the frustration of the community was apparent, but many people did not understand the limited powers the council had to act.

He said much of the frustration was being directed at the state government, which was not being seen to have acted.

‘People understand that there is research being done but say we have a problem now and can’t afford to wait two months for any action.

Cr Wright said he did not personally support culling sharks, as he believed others would simply move into the area to take their place.

‘I don’t want another incident but if I thought culling would solve the problem I’d think about it, but I don’t think it would solve the problem,’ he said.

Cr Wright said council staff have been in contact with the NSW Department of Primary Industries this morning to pass on the sentiments of the meeting.

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  1. I am pretty shocked that any surfers would call for a cull. I don’t think this attitude is widespread amongst the surfing culture. Surfers who have an intimate relationship with the ocean and its wildlife can often be thought of as the front-line protectors of the ocean. Any of my surfer friends would never want sharks killed. Humans are the interlopers. As tragic as it is when someone loses life or limb, retaliation or removal is not the answer. Get more creative. Apparrently there are smells that sharks dislike. Make a water-proof ointment to wear???

  2. I find it very hard to believe that surfers are calling for a shark cull. This may possibly be driven by the recent attack on surfer Mick Fanning – if it can happen to him then it can happen to us. Any surfer I have ever know has indicated a deep respect for the ocean and its creatures and also an understanding that they are in the sharks turf.

    Killing wildlife is not the answer.

    • or perhaps the numerous recent attacks in the area??
      or the daily sightings of numerous great whites and continuous close encounters at local beaches??
      calls for a cull will grow in line with shark numbers.
      the number of sharks in time will have a very real impact on the tourism industry

  3. Now we’re talking turkey! Or should that be ‘talking shark’? A good culling of all wildlife is beneficial to all species as well as keeping humans safe. Just stop talking about it and do it!

  4. That’s just the risk you take when you get into the water. Human life is not more important than the life of anything and this is what it means to be human. We will all pass that right of passage and not before our time. Pick another hobby if you don’t like it.
    The planet is in the shape it’s in now because if our pathetic attempt to try and control nature to suit our own selfish needs. The irony is half these surfers who want the shark sitch sorted are probably mindlessly eating sharks for dinner. It’s time we wake up and accept and honour our place on this beautiful planet.
    Much love

  5. I think the best thing for the wildlife and the Planet in general would be to cull humans, starting from the top and working down, lets face it the ones at the top cause the most damage as they own the Corporations driving acquisition in all of its guises; rape and plunder of the Environment #1.
    I would also imagine that with the concerns in other areas of the Earth over the decreasing numbers of sharks due to the supposed culinary delicacy, ‘Shark Fin Soup’ that their numbers are already decreasing.
    Really we could go on and on about this.
    I would not like to be a meal for a shark though and I really am not sure, short of never entering the ocean,
    what can be done about it. Perhaps more netted beaches would help to keep them out further.

  6. Come back into the room when you stop swatting mosquitos Bob, which kill millions of people every year.
    A shark is a predator, humans have always protected themselves from predation: that is what is means to be human.
    If they hadn’t you wouldn’t have the luxury of writing this on a computer right now.

    The hypocrisy around this issue is breathtaking.

    If there are several large dangerous white sharks posing clear and present danger to people it’s not a mindless killing to remove them. It’s a highly targeted common sense thing to do to prevent more bloodshed and trauma.

    • I don’t think it’s ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ to swat a mozzie on your deck but not want to kill an apex predator in the ocean. I also don’t think you can equate the millions of people around the world who die of Malaria every year to the few who get taken by sharks. There is no comparison. It’s not ‘common sense’ to cull sharks. Common sense is not entering the water when there are big sharks / bait schools / migrating whales in the area. That’s also how you protect yourself from predation. Being human on this planet means learning how to live with other species, not killing them when they get in the way of our lifestyles now and then.

  7. I’m guessing “about 200 surfers and other community members” is inclusive. How many surfers present didn’t also have business interests to protect?
    I didnt understand what read to me like a contradiction. Have the bait fish numbers increased near the shore while fish stocks in the ocean have depleted overall?
    Was there any discussion of the efficacy of shark culling? How often do they propose sharks be culled? What effect will this in turn have on tourism and and our international reputation?
    Never mind the vegetarians. It was never worth the risk surfing before we had freely wrecked the coastal ecology.

  8. Great people, scientific studies show shark populations are declining. Looking at the number of people surfing maybe they need culling. Anyway nobody seems to be calling for cullling of drivers or cars considering it is far more dangerous on the roads. Please common sense, not this reactionary ideas.

  9. It has been in our power to protect wildlife and thats a good thing. Protecting something as dangerous as White Pointers needs to be done with great care and control. When numbers increase so the ocean is an absololute no-go zone, then we are responsible. Most negative commentary on the shark cull seems to come from non surfers. On the one hand surfers are given credibility for their ocean experience, then condemned for their judgement. Surfers are making a reluctant but necessary call.

  10. “Another initiative was to set up an education program so that young people were better informed about what to look out for in the water, such as the presence of baitfish, birds, dolphins, and also when sharks were most active.”

    At Broken Head on Saturday mid-morning there were dozens of plunging sea-birds and a large pod of dolphins all going nuts and creating a frenzy around a big school of baitfish only 50-100 metres from the shore. And surfers of all ages, a snorkeler and some body-bashers paddling out into it all. When the surf’s up you’re not going to stop people getting out there. An education program won’t stop people taking the chance. Call it denial, or call it a calculated risk, but when you push out from the shore into that sort of environment you need to be prepared to deal with the potential consequences. I love snorkelling and swimming around our amazing area but I don’t support culling at all. As the old saying goes, buy the ticket, take the ride.

  11. How about this for an idea. Stop fishing go #vegan. And don’t kill things that stand in the way of your selfish agenda. I suggest meditation. Happiness comes from within not by the sensory stimuli of moving along water on a non-sustainable fibreglass apparatus. Sharks live in the water. Why the hell are they being culled for merely existing? This sums the mindless inanity of secular empirical societies that put hedonism before life. A profoundly sick society.

  12. How about we cull the surfboards? Then surfers won’t look like turtles. Sharks won’t be as interested. Theres been a lot of research into surfboard overpopulation threatening other things that are underpopulated
    Or, paint a big scary mouth with teeth under your surfboard so you look like a shark. And be really gentle with your paddling so you blend in. Then you’ll appear to be a shark. The sharks will want to be friends not eat you. Or get some raw meat and tie it to a really long string. Then the sharks will be attracted to you – but only from really far away. By the time they get close to you, you’ll have caught your wave and be far away again.
    See. There are all kinds of creative solutions if you try. And I’m not even trying. Lets move on from this polarised kill/don’t kill approach. Are you guys smoking dope? Looks like it – Not very innovative so far

  13. Any talk of culling sharks is ridiculous and counter-productive. The greater prevalence of apex predators like large sharks is a sign that the local marine environment is in better condition than it has been. What is needed is an effective repellent of some sort. There are some on the market now but I’m not sure about their efficacy.

    Other major contributors to the increasing numbers and therefore attacks could be river mouth dredging, river run-off from agriculture and increasing ocean temperatures, but certainly a major contributor is simply the greater numbers of people using the ocean. Sharks kill and maim far less people than car accidents, smoking, alcohol, suicide, drug overdoses and dog attacks! (to name a few). The main fear is a psychological one ie we are used to being at the top of the food chain!

  14. Better idea Shakshi: teach the sharks to be vegan, feed them on tofu, thus increasing jobs in the local tofu industry and the surfing industry. Maybe you could even teach the sharks to meditate,bonus!

  15. “I am the centre of the universe, I should be able to do whatever I want and whenever I want, including surfing. If someone or something is in my way I can justify reasons for the termination of its and existence to create safety, happiness and comfort for myself”. This is the motto of the Australian government, environmental authorities and people (not all but some). And the “some” are very powerful in driving their agenda at a cost to the majority, the reversal of the ultimate utilitarian theory has a great place in Australia. Because the human “I” needs to exist. This is not normal thinking, it is a abnormal and infectious disorder, heavily influenced by the consumeristic nature of the modern society.

  16. That moral high horse you’re riding proudly on has lame legs Shakshi.
    Unless you’re growing those soybeans yourself they need to be farmed, stored and transported, all of which involves the death of countless millions of animals, all merely existing.
    That computer you just wrote on, a product of mining, production, distribution, transportation. Again, millions of animals and plants killed for your precious existence.

    Some of the radical misanthropy on display here is disturbing and borders on the psychopathic. Think about the child you see swimming in the water, a friend maybe. You’d really rather see them grey and bled out on the beach with hideous injuries, or spending months in hospital recovering from huge chunks of missing flesh than the targeted removal of a couple of large sharks?
    Human life is not more important than the life of anything. Really? Where do you draw the line on that? At sharks? What about mosquitoes, are they more important than a human life? Bacteria? Would you not treat a serious infection with antibiotics because a bacteria and a human life were equivalent?
    It’s just misanthropic nonsense.

  17. An ongoing policy of limited culling is a good idea. Otherwise I expect we’ll see a return to the carnage of the 1920’s and 1930’s when, although population was much lower, fatal attacks were at an all time high. There were 40 fatal attacks in Australia in the 1920’s and 35 in the 1930’s. There were only 39 fatal attacks in the 40 year period from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, even though there were many more regular users of the ocean than previously. There have already been 28 fatal attacks in the last 15.5 years and many other attacks where people suffer horrific injuries. Of course we need to research shark repellants and other non-harmful means but to date we have nothing that will ward off an attacking Great White. There were no fatal attacks in NSW waters in the 1970’s. It’s time to act.

  18. Sharmila, not sure what hippie high horse you’re riding on but the reverse is true when it comes to white sharks.
    They are protected and currently, if you believe some of the nonsense being peddled here, considered on a higher plane than human beings, probably up there with the angelic beings.

    The utilitarian theory in this case is entirely in favour of the shark.

  19. Well…….in case you lot haven’t noticed.
    The cull HAS begun, and it’s the sharks that have taken the initiative.
    With all the destructive trawling carried out in the area what have the sharks got to eat ? surfers !

  20. Well, I´m not a surfer but I often hear my friend´s complaints about overcrowded waves. Sharks is the answer. They regulate the surfer population (surfers kill each other accidentally when too many) so there will be only brave surfers in the water, respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of the waters that bring us joy. Primal, genuine, respectful, risky, bare surfing…only the brave.
    Or what about prevention? Will it be to expensive for the Federal government to implement a drone (a silent one please) operator checking on the recreational waters? What a dream job? What a sight for a visitor, witnessing a respectful, innovative approach!
    Let´s don´t forget sharks are not interested in humans, we are probably also disgusting for the palate, there is no evil behind a shark attack (thanks Spielberg). Eating humans is not their thing.

  21. It would seem that quite a few people are unaware of their position on this planet. As humans we are a PART of the Biosphere. This is the name give to the ecosystem that supplies the conditions for all life, including that of humans. Yes folks you are just a part of it and not its master. Stuff it up and you will not have food to eat, air to breathe and water to drink. Don’t believe me…well how many dinosaurs did you see today, and their termination was most likely not of their own doing. Species decline on this planet is currently at the fastest rate it has ever been, yes we are dying off faster than the dinosaurs.
    Perhaps a more holistic approach where we actually try to live in harmony with our life sustaining biosphere is called for. Some estimates have our planets’ carrying capacity for humans at 9 billion people. That means we could have that many people and NOT be degrading the biosphere If we managed ourselves properly. No a shark cull is not the answer, a total shift in the human paradigm is what is required, but that seems unlikely reading some of these comments.
    One option could be to just not go surfing at the moment,….that’s what I’ve been doing and I haven’t seen a shark once in the last 2 months. Oh yeah, and amazingly not surfing hasn’t had any ill effects on me.

  22. Really!
    Are sharks sacred? Like cows in India?
    Don’t we destroy pit bulls who bite people?
    Don’t we kill and eat sharks every day?
    If certain sharks are menacing humans they need to be destroyed before they hurt someone else.

  23. If we’re already culling the food of the sharks, tuna, mahi mahi big pelagics, etc, those big guys are gonna have to eat smaller fish, hence closer to shore,especially in marine reserves, where we play. If we cull all the other links in the chain from krill upwards, and then don’t correspondingly cull the top predators, guess what? they’re gonna get hungry….

  24. A MacDonalds drive-thru situation??? That’s the most absurd of all the absurdities about sharks that are passing for valid information at the moment.

    If you want a quick solution, STAY OUT OF THE WATER!

  25. I’ve been a regular surfing traveller to the area for the last 10 years. You guys need to get your act together on culling these specific predators. Livelihoods and lifestyle’s are held to ransom by a handful of killers.

    And don’t give me that crap about declining numbers. Speak to people that have an ocean connection on the southern coast of Oz (Port Lincoln to Esperance), the nursery of the great white. They’ll tell you there is NO decline in this species, there’s an obvious growing abundance of them.

  26. This is crazy. The situation is crystal clear. Our communities best and brightest minds have indicated that sharks want quick, direct no-fuss access to McDonalds. The fault clearly lies with our inability to meet their needs for food they’ve been (thus far) unable to source themselves. It’s up to us. Stop blaming, stop the smokescreens. Surfers need to bring a McHappy Meal to the beach and give generously. It’s time to start giving back.

  27. Dear Mr. Longtom,

    I am not clear on what your arguments are: as you have criticised myself and another reader about our positions in the manner that is not acceptable and degrading to sections of the community, as in mentioning a “hippie high slogan”. Would you kindly define the concept, before you criticise it. Additionally, it is a point of view I am presenting about caring for the environment, including ourselves in thoughtful and considerate ways not in selfish egocentric manner. Computers and technology have a place in society when used with proper intent and appropriateness and, that goes with all inventions of society. The existence of humans are not independent of animals and plants: rather it is a interdependent interaction. I apologise that the hippies really bother you with their ideas, sadly, you can’t get rid of them, perhaps it might be psychologically healthier for you, if you understand your own reactions to such messages.

    Thank you.

  28. I cannot support the notion of even a limited cull under any circumstance. The ocean is the shark’s domain whereas humans are just pleasure seekers. As a local resident I say “absolutely not” to this knee-jerk reaction.


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