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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

North Coast sharks netted in BBC documentary

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The recent 'not nets' rally at Ballina Beach. Photo Jeff Dawson
Shark net opponents rally at Ballina Beach. Photo Jeff Dawson

Paul Bibby

The fight over the North Coast shark nets trial is set to feature in a BBC radio documentary exploring the relationship between sharks and people across the globe.

Journalist Ellen Husain was in town last week interviewing local activists, scientists and surfers for an episode of the series Costing the Earth, to be aired in January.

‘We wanted to come to an area that illustrated both sides of the argument about sharks,’ Ms Husain said.

‘In parts of Australia, sharks are actually a great benefit for tourism. Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, for example, often say that diving with sharks was the highlight of their trip.

‘But obviously in and around Byron Bay, it’s a different story because of the attacks and the shark-net trials.’

The debate within the shire will be examined in the context of the global decline in shark numbers.

‘These issues are very complex and we have to be very careful when people are being threatened by sharks,’ Ms Husain said.

Shark decline

‘But it is also the case that, globally, we are killing a lot of sharks and the world’s shark populations have massively declined.’

The second north coast shark-net trial is due to commence at five beaches in Ballina, Evans Head and Lennox Head as soon as officers are satisfied that the southward whale migration has concluded.

Nine target sharks were caught in the nets during the five-month trial last summer, while a further 266 non-target animals were also captured.

More than 140 of these animals died.

However, proponents of the trial have pointed out that there were no attacks on the netted beaches during the trial.

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.

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