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February 28, 2021

Shark nets to be installed at north coast beaches

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Shark caught in a net. File photo
Shark caught in a net. File photo

Five north coast beaches will soon be trialling mesh shark nets under legislation to be fast-tracked into parliament.

The legislation will be tabled by NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair on Wednesday.

It proposes the nets be trialled for six months at Lighthouse Beach, Sharpes Beach and Shelly Beach at Ballina, Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head and Evans Head Beach.

The promised move by Mr Blair comes after three shark attacks were reported in northern NSW last month.

The nets are the latest stage in the NSW government’s $16 million shark management strategy, which includes smart drumlines, increased shark-tagging stations and drone surveillance.

The recent 'not nets' rally at Ballina Beach. Photo Jeff Dawson
The recent ‘not nets’ rally at Ballina Beach. Photo Jeff Dawson


The announcement has been met with strong opposition from locals, who at a recent rally argued the nets could endanger other marine life, such as dolphins.

Last week Greens marine and fisheries spokesperson Justin Field accused the government of  rushing through legislation for the ‘old-style shark mesh nets’.

The Human Society International has today issued a statement saying the introduction of the legislation to fast-track shark nets was ‘a backward step’.

‘HSI understands the views and concerns of some in the community but putting in shark nets provides no greater safety when in the ocean,’ HSI’s senior program manager Alexia Welbelove said.

‘What is needed instead is a continued focus on non-lethal alternate technologies and a greater understanding of our ocean environment so we can better appreciate the risks when entering the ocean, not more nets which is a backwards step for NSW’s marine environment.

HSI has long urged both the NSW and Queensland Governments (and more recently the WA Government) to replace its lethal shark control methods with non-lethal alternatives appropriate for the conditions in each location.

‘Nets kill our marine life plain and simple. Whilst they are designed to target only a limited number of shark species they also trap and kill whales, dolphins, dugongs, turtles and many other harmless animals,’ Ms Wellbelove said.

‘HSI considers the nets to be an outdated and ineffective method of protection from the very low, albeit tragic, risk of a shark bite. We therefore urge Parliamentarians to reject the Bill which is today being introduced to the NSW Parliament.

New South Wales’ law has recognised shark netting as a ‘key threatening process’ since 2003, following a scientific submission to Government by HSI.

Byron says no to nets

Ironically Byron Bay, where the most recent attack the prompted the decision occurred, will not be netted.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said at the time that council was ‘keen to look at non-lethal shark mitigation that suits our shallow profile beaches.’

– with AAP

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  1. To be fair and at least with a fig leaf of balance the Echo should note the strong community advocacy and rally in favour of shark meshing which occurred at Ballina.

  2. I note with interest within this story that you have not referenced the pro-nets rally that was held in Ballina on 5 November, with high attendance by the local community. Please, if you are going to report on this highly contentious issue, it’s important that you give both sides of the spectrum equal billing.

  3. Personal, leg rope and surfboard devices.. are available now with new tech. Google to see…should be available in surf shops and elsewhere as standard use rather than nets as they do not harm and kill like nets, while protecting swimmers.

  4. 2 things. The research on the nets down south shows an extremely low death rate of a variety of sea life. My guess is that the trial nets will be getting a lot of attention so this should reduce death of any creatures captured, desirable or not. We need to know more precisely how much we can minimise death rates of sea life and how well we can protect human life.

    Some people are way too impressed about devices you can wear that are supposed to deter sharks. I’ve tried several of the so-called personal protection devices and am not convinced either by the theory about why they should work (stimulating receptors on the shark’s nose such that the animal doesn’t attack but turns away), and about the usability of these electrical devices that are worn somewhere on the body. The first objection, to the theory, is the way that sharks attack. They don’t cruise slowly around the victim and suss things out. They commonly attack from a distance and come in straight and fast. Too fast for the devices to be able to cause them to stop. And when people (like me) wear these devices it is common that they experience very unpleasant electric shocks. The shocks can be multiples and its very hard to rip the devices off when you’re in deep water.

  5. Biased article, either present both sides of the story or dont write anything. There is a huge pro-net community including the local Boardriders club, surf clubs and locals. Also provide some actual facts of how many sharks get caught in nets and die down south, its not nearly as many as you make out to be.
    As far as the ‘shark deterrence devices’ that you wear, they haven’t been proven to work at all. Look them up and u’ll find there is no valid research to prove their effectiveness. Only fake claims by the manufactures and marketing companies


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