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March 8, 2021

Sea Shepherd raises concerns about Ballina shark strategy

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Smart drum lines deployed off the coast of Ballina. (Picture DPI)
Smart drum lines deployed off the coast of Ballina. (Picture DPI)

Marine conservation group Sea Shepherd Australia wants greater transparency from the NSW Government with regards to a trial of ‘smart drum lines’ along the Ballina and Coffs Harbour coastlines.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has begun using the drum lines this week as part of a strategy to prevent further shark attacks along the coastline.

But both Sea Shepherd and surfing group, Le-Ba (Lismore-Ballina) Boardriders, remain critical of the strategy.

Sea Shepherd’s National Shark Campaign Coordinator Natalie Banks said the drum lines were being used ‘without any transparency on catch data and response times to release animals caught on the hook’.

‘There remains many unanswered questions regarding the smart drum line trials including whether they will be removed during bad weather, at night time or when crew are unavailable and where reports of caught marine life will be made available to the public,’ Ms Banks said.

‘This trial is taking place as a result of taxpayers funding it, and therefore the outcomes should be clearly transparent.’

She said Sea Shepherd was very critical of the fact that there had been a complete lack of publicised information regarding the smart drum line trial, including who is monitoring the smart drum lines and the lack of trigger points. She said the marine conservation organization would like to see the trial completely reviewed and the use of smart drum lines stopped if a shark dies on the hook and if a species other than a shark is hooked.

‘One of the biggest statements missing from the smart drum line trial currently is what the New South Wales Government would deem as a success,’ she said.

‘The NSW Government has not clearly stated what it is wanting to achieve by utilizing smart drum lines, whether it be greater research, increased public safety or a mixture of both.’

Meanwhile, Le-Ba Boardriders president Don Munro said surfers were furious that the drum lines would not be installed permanently.

Mr Munro told the ABC that he would prefer that the government roll out shark nets, which have been in place in Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney for decades.

‘Different kinds of beach guards, aerial patrols, guard towers, a whole list of alternate non-fatal means plus by using your common sense and not going surfing early in the morning and late in the afternoon, early evening, that you can avoid shark attack,’ he said.

Mr Munro has issued an invitation to NSW Premier Mike Baird to come surfing at Lennox Point if he believed the NSW Government’s response to shark attacks was effective.


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