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Byron Shire
January 29, 2022

Shark nets the best option for protecting people

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Can the Ballina Shark attack issue be reduced to this equation: One Great White or one person?

The numbers are roughly the same.

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) administers the shark nets in NSW. The nets cover 60 beaches across the 270Km stretch between Wollongong to Newcastle.

Four million people swim at those beaches each year. The shark nets work very well. There has not been a fatal shark attack at the NSW netted beaches for over 60 years.

During 2014-2015 the DPI reported 189 animals were caught in the shark nets, 73 of the 189 were released alive; sadly 116 animals died.

Of the 189 animals caught in the nets, only 23 were from a threatened or protected species (This included 10 great white sharks, three green turtles and three dolphins).

There’s about 36 km of beaches between Ballina and Byron Bay.

If shark nets were installed, NSW would have about an extra 10 per cent of shark nets and I’m guessing there would also be about a 10 per cent increase of animals killed in shark nets.

By my very unscientific rough maths, that’s an increase of about a 12 animals that would die to protect the Ballina/Byron shire from more shark attacks. Only one or two of the dozen animals likely to die from new nets would likely be protected species such as the magnificent great white shark.

The cost of a shark net is about $6,000 to install.

I can’t value the cost of a dead great white, but I also can’t value the cost of damage suffered by the following people who were attacked or killed in Ballina/Lennox area from shark attacks in the past couple of years:

September 2014 – English expat Paul Wilcox is killed by a shark while swimming at one of Byron Bay’s most protected beaches.
February 2015 – Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara is killed while surfing at Shelly Beach at Ballina when he is savagely attacked.
July 2015 – Just one beach over, 32-year-old bodyboarder Mathew Lee is attacked, flown to Gold Coast hospital with severe wounds to both legs.
July 2015 – 52-year-old Craig Ison is attacked by a shark at Evans Head.
November 2015 – Sam Morgan mauled by bull shark at Lighthouse Beach.
October 2016 – 17-year-old Cooper “Don’t tell mum” Allen sustained “massive” injuries from at 3.5 great white at Lighthouse Beach.
October 2016 – 25-year-old Seneca Rus is attacked at Sharpes Beach.

Given $16 million has been set aside and done nothing good so far, I congratulate Mike Baird on his decision to spend money on nets to protect our community.

PS: With the money we save on the relatively cheap nets, why can’t we have more coastal pools. Why can’t our kids have the same safe environment that the big city kids enjoy?


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1 COMMENT

  1. One Question to the above; why is Government deemed by many, responsible for protection of board riders?

    As tragic as any loss of human life in any circumstances is, more tragic, is the loss of rare and endangered animal species, such as but not only, Great White sharks.
    Removing the risk of human tragedy in the ocean, should be covered under existing legislative procedures and through government facility of ordinance.
    If board riding in dangerous locations such as lighthouse beach is so stressful to the general population, ban the practice through ordinance. IE. A sign erected by council prohibiting the practice!

    My observation of board riders is, they lack, in many instances, the foresight into their own chosen activity, to a concious reality, that an inherent danger exists in surfing during specific hours of the day, and under other obviously dangerous circumstances too numerous to mention!

    My credentials for comment on this subject, extend to a long life of diving the local North Coast area over many years. Mostly I dive from my own boat and generally solo, in areas of known shark activity. I’m over seventy years old.
    I have many years of shark encounters I could relate, many confronting. But I’m still alive through them all.
    My plea is to authorities with the power to NOT net our beaches endangering our more precious than human life, marine ecology.
    I put it to them, that in the end, this practice will add to human misery and loss of life, not subtract from it!

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