Ballina council votes to expand shark net trial
UPDATE, 6.30pm: A VERY balanced result was how Ballina mayor David Wright described council's vote in support of the State Government's six-month shark net trial and numerous other shark mitigation measures today's Ballina Shire council meeting.
Unlike the nets in Sydney, Cr Wright said the meshing to be installed on our beaches will have added features that were negotiated with the Department of Primary Industries to ensure the safety of marine life.
The features consist of mechanisms, similar to SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drumlines, to be placed on the nets as part of the by-catch program - where the meshing will be monitored frequently by Department of Primary Industries staff.
The nets will also be removed at night in a bid to avoid harm to marine animals.
Cr Phillip Meehan made an amendment, which was carried by the council, that the shark meshing be installed at all six beaches in the Ballina Shire: Lighthouse, Shelly, Angels, Sharpes, Boulder and Lennox Beaches.
From nippers, surfers to the tourism industry, Cr Wright said the move to support the shark net trial was vital for the interests of the whole community.
"The sharks are still here, we need to try something a little bit different," Cr Wright said.
"They (DPI) have made a lot of concessions, it is a trial. There is a huge number of people who depend on it (the nets).
"It's (the nets) going to happen, it's better that we have control over it a bit. We've asked also for an early warning system to go in with the listening stations, I've been asking for that since last November."
The early warning system will consist of flashing beacons on Lennox Point and Sharpes Beach to let surfers know that a shark is within 500m.
The council also moved to increase aerial patrols and lifeguard numbers on local beaches. A request will also be made by council to the State Government to provide additional funding to surf life-saving clubs for extra equipment and maintenance support.
DPI community drop-in sessions about the shark net trial will be held at the Ballina-Lighthouse Surf Life-Saving Club this Saturday and at the Lennox Head - Alstonville Club on Sunday.
ORIGINAL STORY: BALLINA Shire Council has today voted to ask the State Government to expand its planned trial of shark nets to six local beaches between Lennox Head and Ballina.
The move comes as Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair announced on Monday the government will introduce legislation to regulate mesh nets on the North Coast, enabling the six-month trial to commence as soon as possible.
Ballina councillors voted 7-2 for an expansion of the State Government's shark net trials.
Councillors who voted for the motion were: Mayor David Wright, Cr Phil Meehan, Cr Stephen McCarthy, Cr Jeff Johnson, Cr Ben Smith, Cr Eoin Johnston and Cr Sharon Cadwallader, who put forward the motion.
Councillors Nathan Willis and Keith Williams voted against the trial expansion.
Cr Sharon Parry was absent for the vote.
Many locals have taken to Facebook to celebrate the council's vote.
George Leslie wrote: "Congratulations to Ballina Shire Council on supporting and endorsing the shark net trials proposed by the NSW Government. Most importantly their proposal to have nets between Lennox and Lighthouse beaches."
Shark net opponents have also taken to social media to voice their disappointment in the council's decision.