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 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‘HSI considers the nets to be an outdated and ineffective method of protection from the very low, albeit tragic, risk of a shark bite.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