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January 18, 2022

New technologies promised at Lennox shark summit

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A shark being tagged by NSW Department of Primary Industries staff. (photo DPI)
A shark being tagged by NSW Department of Primary Industries staff. (photo DPI)

Another two great white sharks were tagged at the weekend and more sharks sighted this morning along the Ballina shire coastline, and near Byron Bay.

The sightings and tagging follow a ‘shark summit’ at Lennox Head on Friday evening at which 250 people heard NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair promised trials of new techonology would be in place by summer.

Mr Blair ruled out using drums lines and netting and said modern untried methods would be tested that do not damage the marine environment.

The summit heard from various experts including Dr Paul Butcher of the DPI who linked the presence of sharks to large bait schools in the area.

‘We still believe when these bait schools disappear the sharks will too,’ Dr Butcher said.

Meanwhile, the DPI is continuing with its tagging program, and has so far tagged 12 sharks that have been frequenting the local coastline.

Shark biologists Dr Butcher and Dr Vic Peddemores said the tagging program involved inserting trackers and acoustic tags to provide an insight into the shark’s movement and speed.

Initial findings from the tagging program, which updates the movements of the tagged sharks onto a DPI website, had suggested that great white sharks were highly mobile and could travel large distances daily.

A downside is that the shark cannot be tracked until it surfaces, and they can stay underwater for long periods, making their movements impossible to track.

A Surf Life Saving spokesperson reinforced the message that the safest place to swim was on a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.

The summit also heard other measures that have been introduced since the spate of attacks in local waters began.

They include the North Coast SharkSmart public education campaign, which is partnering with surf clubs to distribute education materials; the fast tracking of observation towers, and ongoing aerial surveys.

Minister Blair reinforced the message that there was ‘no one-size-fits-all’ solution to the issue.

Ballina mayor David Wright said after initial shock and anger over attacks, they realize that solutions will take time.

‘They realize work is being done and it’s not going to be a quick fix.

‘Our scientists are the best in the world and they still don’t know why the sharks are here … they think bait balls, and I personally think bait balls, but the message they gave out is that it’s a work in progress and that’s the disappointing thing for a lot of people,’ Cr Wright said.

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  1. Surfers cannot surf “between the flags”, so what about them? There needs to be a device that stops sharks as normal wear to stop them, which would protect swimmers too, available at all surf shops.


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