Shark mitigation plans ramp up

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)

There are recent developments in addressing the recent incidents of shark attacks – just one will be a community shark forum at the Lennox Community Centre on Tuesday June 28 from 6 till 7.30pm.

It’s part of the NSW government’s $16m shark-management strategy, and will be presented by top shark biologists who will give an update on their work.

Additionally, around 45 potential new shark spotters met last weekend, with a view to starting a regular patrol on the Ballina to Lennox Head coastline.

The announcement also comes after a feasibility study was announced last week for a shark-spotting program at Byron Bay’s Wategos Beach.

It’s modelled on the hugely successful shark-spotting program pioneered at South Africa’s Cape Town Beach. The pilot is being funded by local Greens MP Tamara Smith and Byron Shire Council in partnership with Sea Shepherd.

National Shark Campaign co-ordinator for Sea Shepherd Australia, Natalie Banks, welcomed the study and said, ‘The fact that this study was unanimously approved by the Byron Shire Council shows the progressive and forward-thinking manner of the full council.’

Byron mayor Simon Richardson was also supportive, saying it could provide extra security while ‘also ensuring there are no negative impacts on the marine life, including sharks,’ he said.

Developed by Sea Shepherd, the trial responds to the state government’s independent assessment of current shark-mitigation strategies undertaken by the Cardno Review.

That assessment identified a shark-spotting program as the highest ranked solution.

The Echo asked the NSW Department of Primary Industries why there was not more emphasis on the shark- spotters program within its shark-management strategy, considering it was recommended as the best solution in the Cardno Review.

DPI replies

A DPI spokesperson replied that the strategy is ‘looking at new innovative technologies to better detect and deter sharks because we know there is not one solution.’

‘Among these measures is working with surf life saving and lifeguard associations in NSW to discuss ways to improve techniques to spot sharks and alert bathers, providing a customised Australian version of the South African shark-spotter program.’

South Africa’s Shark Spotters project manager Sarah Waries told The Echo their program ‘costs around ZAR3.8 million per year to operate on eight beaches, but our labour costs are considerably cheaper.’

ZAR3.8m converts to aprroximately AU$339,675.

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