A Byron shire ocean conservationist is organising a paddle out for this Saturday at Lennox Head during which conservationists plan to swim under shark nets, that have been reinstalled this morning.
Dean Jefferys, a filmmaker who captains a whale conservation yacht, Migaloo 2, has invited all interested parties to take part in the action aimed at showing that the shark nets are ineffective.
Mr Jeffery said the action on Saturday aimed to highlight the fact that the nets have killed over 150 marine creatures durring the last 6 month trial and that there are more effective non lethal alternatives.
‘The plan is to meet on the beach in front of Lennox Head surf club at midday ~ Saturday 25th Nov~ and spell out some large words with bodies and boards then paddle out to the Shark nets that are planned to be about 300 meters off shore,’ he said in a Facebook post advertising the event.
‘Those who feel confident and with masks and fins can then swim under the shark nets that go down about 5 meters. This will help dispel the fallacy that the nets are a total barrier and that sharks, like humans, can swim under the nets.
‘If humans can swim under the nets then surely sharks can,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jefferys has written to Ballina’s mayor David Wright, councillors, and the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, requesting a meeting to explore non-lethal options.
‘I have heard from various spokespeople that a downturn in tourism after an unwanted shark encounter is a major concern for business people from the Ballina shire as is finding solutions to the shark issue,’ Mr Jefferys said.
‘I have been talking with other marine conservationist and have come up with a list of non lethal ideas and activities that should be capable of preventing an unwanted shark encounter and has the potential to encourage people, rather than discourage people, to Ballina’s beaches.’
Mr Jeffery said if the shark netting program proceeded, there would be a campaign to encourage local people and tourists to visit and spend their money at non netted beaches where there is a priority to look after and protect the local and migrating marine life and provide more effective, non lethal shark mitigation technology e.g. shark watch, drum lines, spotters, education etc.
‘When/if we launch this campaign we will be encourage people to avoid shark netted beaches though out Australia.’
The NSW Department of Primary Industries this morning confirmed that the second shark net trial, approved by the state government, was again underway.
The second trial is taking place at the same five beaches – Lighthouse Beach (Ballina), Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina), Seven Mile Beach (Lennox Head) and Evans Head – and was timed to follow the peak southward whale migration period.
The nets are again fitted with dolphin pingers and whale alarms. The second trial is also investigating changes to net operation and design to reduce bycatch (animals caught other than target sharks).
Up to 35 SMART drumlines continue to be deployed daily (weather permitting) between Lennox Head and Evans Head, as well as aerial surveillance on weekends and school holidays in the region.