26.5 C
Byron Shire
March 27, 2023

How do we live with sharks – without getting bitten?

Latest News

Helping our elders on April Falls Day

April Falls Month is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of falls and to promote the latest best practice fall prevention strategies. The overall campaign goal is to get active and improve balance for fall prevention.

Other News

Flood-affected still without assistance

Over a year has passed since the devastating February 2022 floods, but many residents of the Northern Rivers have not received the support to retrofit, raise or buyback their homes, as pledged to them by the federal and state governments.

Doggie debate

It would seem to me that there is a very logical, practical solution to this ongoing problem of free...

Byron’s chocoholics’ Easter destination

The Love Byron Bay boutique has been specialising in unique cocoa encounters for nearly a decade now. In this...

Lismore candidate Adam Guise

With just a few days until we head to the polls, The Echo asked the candidates for the seat of Lismore one last bunch of questions.

Over $61 million to fix flood damaged roads in Tweed

As the flood 2022 bills come rolling in for Tweed Shire Council (TSC) it has become apparent that almost half of the $125 million total repair bill will be spent on repairing landslides that have impacted access routes. 

No chance of change

Sadly, David Heilpern’s well-written missive regarding non-compliant dog owners in Byron Shire will achieve absolutely nothing. The fact is,...

First Dog on the Moon at Splendour in the Grass 2015. Photo Jeff Dawson

Charles Boyle

Byron-Ballina is the official shark-attack capital of Australia – and with 12 attacks since 1990, the numbers are increasing. Over the past thirty years, shark attacks (fatal and non-fatal) in NSW have increased by 1,500 per cent. The major government strategy for preventing shark attacks is the use of shark nets to kill all large sharks that venture near our beaches, but the rapid increase in attacks shows this primitive approach isn’t working. With our tourism-dependent economy and beach culture, we urgently need to find effective alternatives.

Majority of attacks at netted beaches

The last peak decade for NSW shark attacks was the 1930s. When two people were killed by Great White sharks on Sydney beaches in a single week in 1935, NSW Fisheries invited public submissions to address the problem, and came up with the idea of shark nets. The first shark nets were installed in Sydney in 1937 and in the eighty-one years since, there has been only one human fatality caused by a shark at a beach protected by shark nets. However, in the same period, 63 per cent of all NSW shark attacks happened at beaches protected by shark nets.

False sense of security

The shark nets, installed on 51 beaches covering 250km of NSW coastline, simply boost public confidence through a display of government action. Worse, they encourage a false sense of security and cause massive damage to marine ecosystems – while more people than ever are being attacked.

Sharks nets were never meant to be a barrier to stop sharks mixing with swimmers; they are specifically intended to trap and kill sharks and cull their numbers – but they pose a deadly threat to all large marine creatures. The NSW Department of Primary Industries Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2018/19 Annual Performance Report, found that of 395 marine creatures killed in shark nets last year, only 23 (5 per cent) were the targeted Great White, Bull and Tiger sharks. 95 per cent of the victims were cow-nosed rays, dolphins, harmless hammerhead sharks and, of course, whales.

Today ‘Smart’ Drumlines can accurately target dangerous sharks using baited lines that trigger a signal when activated. Although Drumlines offer a strategy that doesn’t kill harmless marine creatures, the indiscriminate destruction of sharks is increasingly unacceptable to the general public. For every one person killed by a shark, there are 2 million sharks killed by humans across the world. It’s time to seek intelligent solutions to the problem of shark attacks.

The United States has twice the number of recorded shark attacks as Australia does, but they don’t use shark nets. Instead the US (including Hawaii), South Africa and New Zealand are trialling new approaches to raise public awareness about shark safety using signs, flags and shark tracking. The recent game-changer is the use of drones to provide real-time assessment of shark threats.

Behaviour change

Today 80 per cent of shark bite victims survive due to improved first aid, but until the invention of a shark repellant, the best strategy for preventing shark attacks is to change people’s behaviour.

The University of Technology Sydney, in partnership with CSIRO and James Cook University, are trying to do just that by holding public workshops to find out how the threat of shark attacks has affected our behaviour. If you’re a local or tourist who regularly ventures into the ocean to swim, surf, snorkel or dive, you’re invited to attend free public workshops at the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC on Tuesday, October 15 at 6pm, and at Byron Bay Surf Club on October 16 at 6pm. These workshops will provide a chance for community members to share their experiences, knowledge and views to feed into government policy on shark management.

To register your interest for the workshops, go to: www.sharkworkshopsnsw.net. For details, contact Nick McClean 0415 775 531, [email protected]

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Closing the Gap on Aboriginal health in the Byron Shire

Close the Gap aims to reduce disadvantage experienced by Indigenous peoples with respect to child mortality, childhood education, life expectancy and health.

Lismore Council wants you to have your say

Lismore City Council is inviting residents and members of the community to contribute to Your Say Lismore, an innovative online platform that creates a two-way conversation between the community and Council. 

Cartoon of the week – 15 March 2023

The letters deadline for The Echo is noon Friday. Letters longer than 200 words may be cut. The publication of letters is at the discretion of the letters editor.

NEFA welcomes the election of a new government

The North East Forest Alliance welcomes the election of the Minns Labor government with their promise to create a Great Koala National Park, and calls for a moratorium on logging within the park proposal until the promised assessment is complete.