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May 22, 2024

North coast shark nets could be in by Christmas

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A 10-metre humpback whale tangled in a shark net off Main Beach on the Gold Coast. (AAP)
A 10-metre humpback whale tangled in a shark net off Main Beach on the Gold Coast. (AAP)

Shark nets could be installed along north coast beaches as early as Christmas, but not before local communities have had the opportunity to have their say on the proposal.

Ballina’s mayor David Wright has told Echonetdaily that the NSW Department of Primary Industries had given an assurance that information sessions would be held prior to any nets being installed, and a survey conducted.

‘They made it clear they want people to be fully informed,’ Cr Wright said.

Cr Wright and others met with the heads of the Department yesterday to discuss the first steps in the development of a six month trial of shark meshing nets on the north coast.

Byron Shire Council has already indicated it will not support nets while Richmond Valley Council has indicated that it will. Groups including Australian Seabird Rescue and Dolphin Research Australia Inc have spoken out against nets, as has Ballina MP Tamara Smith.

Cr Wright said Ballina council did not have an official position as yet, and would wait for a briefing from the DPI at next week’s meeting, to be held on Thursday.

Yesterday’s meeting of the North Coast Shark Management Strategy Stakeholder Group in Ballina heard that nets could be installed as a ‘complementary measure’ to existing shark mitigation measures, which include SMART drumlines, aerial surveillance, drones and VR4G listening stations.

‘The NSW Government is committed to trialling new technologies, in order to keep beachgoers safe. Engagement and consultation with the local community will underscore the government’s approach,’ a DPI spokesperson said.

‘Other trials currently in place, such as SMART drumlines and aerial surveillance have produced exceptional outcomes. To date there have been 41 great white and five bull sharks tagged on SMART drumlines.

‘Community engagement and consultation on the proposed trial will continue over the coming weeks to inform the local community on the process and most importantly, to hear their views.’

Cr Wright said yesterday’s meeting heard that if nets were installed there would be safeguards to limit the possibility of other marine life being captured and killed.

‘Each net has three dolphin pingers so dolphins know that they are there and the nets also have two whale alarms,’ he said.

‘The nets are only 150 metres long so they’re not meant to fully net a beach and they (DPI) still believe that drones and other measures will be the answer to surveillance in the long run.’

He said in Sydney nets are checked every day although it was possible that nets on the north coast could be checked every day to limit by-catch.




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  1. We are the most eastern point of Australia so whales come closest, all the way into the bay how many do you think will get caught

    Im in the water just about everyday and would not want nets , if you surf your in the shark, turtle,whale & dolphins world so surf with the sharks or take up tennis ……Surfers BBB seem to think they are the more important when it comes to our beaches.

  2. The ability to check nets every day could be severely limited by weather conditions as this area cops its share of summer storms (the tail of the northern wet season) and the Richmond bar is among the most notorious on the East Coast for quickly becoming unacceptably dangerous. I suspect ‘that nets on the north coast could be checked every day to limit by-catch’ is somewhat optimistic as it would require a stormless summer and no northern wet season. At least the whale migration will be over.

  3. If they work to stop sharks, they will stop whales, dolphins and turtles…
    But, like the Eco-barriers, how will they work against an East Coast Low or Richmond Flood debris?

  4. I support Lance O’Connos view(above). If you are a board rider scared of sharks take up tennis, is good advice.
    The estimate of between 70-100million Sharks killed globally PA, to satisfy the Chinese shark fin market , surely must be considered as a mitigating circumstance for not deliberately targeting sharks with beach nets.
    Add this outrage to a new untraeted sewage outfall, directly emptying into the Clarence river Bar at Yamba, and I get the feeling we are stepping back in history hundreds of years.
    I actually had the false impression (apparently), we lived in an enlightened age: would somebody please advise Goverment local and state, this is 2016 not 1716.
    Should we keep watch for Captain Cook sailing over the horizon?

  5. oh come on!!! get some reality, we are talking about netting/controlling a minuscule area of the pacific ocean here(which totals an area 165million km2). to protect a few kilometres so australians can be able to surf and swim with confidence is not a big ask. yes i like wildlife and have been in the surf since before i could walk but if a couple of whales or turtles are a casualty each year i think this is part of the big equation/picture including safe water, marine parks and good legislation nationally and internationally for the protections of certain species.e.g whales. i don’t believe that dolphins will get caught up in them…way too smart…..turtles..well the sharks eat them.

    take the emotion out of it and be smarter. the “its their world so stay out of it” line is ridiculous and ignorant to say the least. you are dealing with a non communicative killer in the white pointer. there is no negotiation. if they can get a feed they will come back. are you saying that we should all stay out of the water. pretty un-australian. …and id say the main reason we all live in this coastal community is to swim/surf/dive/fish etc

    there has to be a smarter solution not an emotional one.

    happy beach days

  6. Good to see some attempts being made to help mitigate the shark problem. the dolphin pingers and whale alarms are also a good inclusion.

  7. Well a marine park in Byron is great for fish and guess what sharks eat ? It will be interesting to see if the amount of tagged whites drops off as the whale season ends , Ballina to Brunswick certainly seem to be getting daily visits by them to a point it’s on par with south Aust which is apparently their main breeding ground .
    Eventually it will logically come to a head when a few more people are bitten or taken and Nets will have to be installed , regardless what all the non swimmers / non surfers say .


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