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March 21, 2023

Backlash over Baird’s shark nets for Ballina

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A break-down of the NSW shark meshing program. (supplied)
A break-down of the NSW shark meshing program. (supplied)

Opponents of shark nets have reacted angrily to reports that the NSW Government was rushing to install shark nets along beaches in the Ballina shire, and at Evans Head.

Premier Mike Baird is in the region today to oversee the installation of the first shark net after the state government received the go-ahead from Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg gave his approval for the trial this week.

The controversial nets will be installed at Lighthouse, Sharpes and Shelly beaches at Ballina, as well as at Lennox Head and Evans Head, with one being installed today at a yet-to-be disclosed beach.

But Mr Baird is expected to be met with some resistance, with marine conservation groups planning to turn out in protest at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach at 1pm.

Opponents say shark nets offer a false sense of security, with studies showing that they result in the deaths of thousands of other marine animals, as well as protected species of sharks.

Dean Jefferys, the skipper of Migaloo 2, a marine conservation vessel , said Mr Baird was ignoring technology and resources that are readily available to deter shark encounters in favour of  ‘outdated indiscriminate killing nets’.

‘Shark nets are purely cosmetic to convince tourists and locals they are “safe”,’ Mr Jefferys said.

‘There is no scientific evidence that the shark nets actually make swimmers safer. Sharks can swim over, under, and around the nets and are often caught on the inside while leaving the netted area.’

Referencing data from the NSW Shark Meshing Program there were 16,696 deaths of marine creatures from 1959 to 2014.

‘Sharks play an important role in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem and should not be seen as the monster that Jaws made them out to be 40 years ago. It’s time to move on from this fear-based movie set and get with the times.’

‘The New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the locations to install the nets were chosen after a process of community consultation yet there was not one question in the “community consultation” survey that asked if the community actually wanted the shark nets or not.

‘It was as I assumed, carefully chosen questions to give the impression that they consulted with the community yet in reality it was the same as Metgasco version of the CSG “community consultation”.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific joined the chorus of condemnation, slamming the legal ‘exemption’ granted this week to allow installation of the shark nets at north coast beaches.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans campaigner Alix Foster said environmental laws were in place for a reason – to protect the environment.

‘Federal Government ministers shouldn’t just grant an exemption whenever it suits their political allies,” she said.

‘Indiscriminately killing marine wildlife is not in the ‘national interest’.

‘Our true national interest is in defending marine ecosystems, not destroying them. No-one wants people injured after shark encounters, but it’s well known that nets trap thousands of creatures, including various endangered species.”

‘There’s no strong evidence that they’re effective at deterring sharks from beaches. Simply put, there are better ways, based on ‘science not emotion’ as NSW Premier Mike Baird says himself.’

Meanwhile, Natalie Banks, the founder of the group No Shark Cull, said she was  disgusted by the lack of transparency from the premier and the Department of Primary Industry regarding a five-year sunset clause contained in the legislation passed this week.

The bill, which was voted through parliament with only the Greens Party voting against it, has a five-year sunset clause; technically meaning the NSW Government could approve management plans for multiple six-month trials and could do that all over the state.

“The bill revealed that the Baird Government want to trial five shark nets and for these to be in before school holidays. However we have heard that at least one shark net could be deployed in Ballina this week,” Natalie said.

‘The bill didn’t restrict trials to mesh nets either, illustrating the trials could be for any technology to capture sharks.

‘The bill furthermore didn’t set out any parameters for what a successful trial will look like, what inspection regime there will be or how the trial will be assessed.

She said No Shark Cull was of the firm belief that a scientific evaluation of the trial would be at the very least necessary.

‘No Shark Cull has for the past few years highlighted the flaws associated with shark nets through its Apex Harmony campaign, illustrating that they only provide a false sense of security and will not prevent shark encounters.

The marine conservation organization has also been promoting non-lethal alternatives such as shark spotting, personal electronic devices and sonar technologies.

‘As northern New South Wales embarks on this trial of shark nets, No Shark Cull calls for all community leaders and media to keep the rhetoric down and to be honest about what nets can and can not do, and what the risks are,” Natalie said.

‘We are putting the New South Wales Government on notice as No Shark Cull, along with the community will not accept marine life being slaughtered for a false promise of security from shark nets.’


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  1. i love the way you say that the community does not want shark nets, i don’t recall being asked by these vocal anti net groups wether i wanted nets or any of my friends who surf and fish and swim and live by the ocean. what a load of b.s. you’re being “trumped” … you think you are the majority but you’re not.
    put a white pointer in the middle of your organic market or cafe with your kids and lets see what you have to say …… get real and and stop inflaming an emotional situation..have some respect for the families that have been massively affected by the attacks.

    no surveillance scheme is going to stop a hungry white pointer on the charge. let alone an aggressive bull shark……politics all the way here as usual.

    seriously look at the size of that ocean and tell me netting a couple of kilometres is seriously going to change the big picture…..!!!! governments are employed to look after the people.
    its laughable this situation. you will have blood on your hands if you’re not careful …



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