Baillina shark net ‘trial’ ineffective and harmful

Mel Mott, Lennox Head.

I am writing in response to your November 22 article regarding the journalist visiting Byron Bay region, Ellen Husain, for her timely documentary Costing the Earth.

In the article, writer Paul Bibby stated at the conclusion that ‘proponents’ of the netting trial have pointed out that there were no attacks during the first trial at Ballina Shire beaches.

Who are these ‘proponents’? And are they aware that at Byron shire beaches during the same period– where no nets were installed because a netting trial was declined by the local council – there also were no shark attacks?

As for the last paragraph: ‘they also point out that the number of non-target animals killed during the trial is dwarfed by the number of dolphins, rays and other large ocean animals caught and killed by the commercial fishing industry each year.’

I find this an appallingly ignorant and callous statement, which ignores the work going into other environmental protection campaigns, battling against corporate, often corrupt, often exploitative and unsustainable, commercial industry practices around the world.

I have been writing to various people regarding abandoning this second net trial, in Ballina Shire, with so far deeply unsatisfying responses from all levels of government (and I mean Ballina Shire Council, NSW Department of Primary Industries, my local members, the Premier of NSW, and the federal minister for the environment).

I have to say my heart sinks when I see the boat coming to install the nets at Lennox Head as part of this second ‘trial’. Seriously – there is a whole 150 metres of net along – or 200 at the most – along the whole length of Seven Mile Beach. Of course, other nets are also being installed along Ballina Shire beaches, including off Shelley Beach, Main Beach and Sharpes.

Actually it is amazing how many harmless and in some cases listed vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species get entangled in the nets!

If the set of data from the first trial is anything to go by, we can expect literally hundreds of injuries and fatalities.

I wish Ballina Shire Council had made the same decision as Byron and not opted for netting trials.

I am still hopeful that the current trial, which is underway in Ballina shire whenever conditions are appropriate, and for which monthly data of all entanglements/deaths is supposed to be collected and published on the DPI website, is abandoned as soon as possible.


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