Ballina mayor excluded from Sydney shark summit

Ballina mayor David Wright. (file pic)

Ballina mayor David Wright. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Ballina’s mayor David Wright has been excluded from a shark summit in Sydney tomorrow but is confident that a further summit in October will provide answers to the shark menace threatening the far north coast.

Cr Wright said tomorrow’s summit would be attended by up to 70 scientists from around Australia and the world, looking at the best ways to deter sharks.

He also rejected suggestions from a fellow councillor, Robyn Hordern, made during last week’s council meeting, that the threat of sharks in Ballina was being exaggerated.

Cr Hordern made that comment that there had only been two attacks in Ballina, yet every media report on sharks made mention of Ballina as a hotspot, which was having a negative impact on local businesses.

But Cr Wright said the situation along the coastline was unprecedented.

‘The helicopter has had to get people out of the water 35 times in the past five or six weeks,’ he said.

‘The head of the Department of Primary Industries has said that they have never seen such an aggregation of sharks, baitfish and dolphins,’ he said.

‘As soon as the baitfish go and the whales pass back this way it could remain the same.’

Cr Wright said tomorrow’s summit would be looking at new technologies that could maybe be utilised on local waters.

He said they included magnetic devices and an ‘eco-barrier’ which uses a type of fibre that doesn’t catch any by-catch.

Cr Wright said he was not upset at being excluded from the Sydney summit, despite having taking hundreds of calls from media on the issue in recent months, and also paying for some aerial surveillance from his own pocket.

‘I expected to be invited but I’m not the chair of our shark advisory committee, Cameron Lindsey (police officer) is,’ he said.

‘We should have a report back from Cameron on Wednesday on the summit, and the local chamber of commerce has been conducting a survey of businesses, which closed last Friday, which provide us with further information on the impact on businesses,’ he said.

The summit in Ballina will be held on October 14, and will be followed by a public forum at a date to be announced.

More stories on the NSW shark summit



2 responses to “Ballina mayor excluded from Sydney shark summit”

  1. Jon says:

    I wouldn’t want Wright’s input either. He’d obviously such a shark lover that his sentimental views would only hold up sensible decisions being made.

  2. Christopher Neff says:

    I wanted to pass on my research from Ballina on this topic. Thank you, Chris

    28 September 2015

    Ballina residents oppose killing sharks in response to bites – new research

    More than 80 percent of residents in the NSW North Coast region of Ballina oppose lethal responses to shark bites, new University of Sydney research shows.

    “The data shows little public support for measures that kill sharks following shark bite incidents. In fact, a majority of Ballina residents want the government to educate the public about human-shark encounters, invest in non-lethal technology, and back more research into human-shark encounters,” said Dr Christopher Neff, who led the research.

    The representative study of 500 residents in the Ballina state electorate included Lennox Head and Byron Bay shires and was conducted between September 21 and 25 with a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

    Ballina residents were asked, when shark bites happen how do you think the NSW government should respond? Residents want the government to:

    · conduct research to investigate human-shark interactions (33 per cent)

    · invest in new non-lethal technologies (23 percent)

    · educate the public (22 percent)

    · put in shark nets (10 percent)

    · leave the shark alone (6 percent)

    · hunt the shark (3 percent)

    · put in baited drum lines (2 percent).

    Some 55 percent of Ballina residents said shark bites are ‘accidental’, with 21 percent describing them as ‘intentional’ and a remaining 24 percent undecided.

    The study of marine policy and the primary factors affecting tourism in Ballina was funded with a $20,000 grant from the Save Our Seas Foundation and led by Dr Neff with PhD researcher Thomas Wynter, from the Department of Government and International Relations.

    “For three years I have looked across Australia for public sentiment to match the political dialogue that supports lethal nets, culls, hunts, and drum lines but the reality is that these options are now out of touch with the public,” said Dr Neff.

    The preliminary results have been released a day before the NSW 2015 Scientific Shark Summit. The summit, to which Dr Neff is an invited expert, will review new non-lethal options for shark bite prevention and result in a recommendation to the Department of Primary Industries about shark-detecting and shark-deterring technologies for trial on selected state beaches.

    Dr Neff said the findings are consistent with 2013 research in Cape Town, South Africa, which found public attitudes to sharks were largely positive before and after shark bites in two beachside suburbs.

    Media enquiries: Luke O’Neill: (02) 9114 1961; 0481 012 600; [email protected]

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