'Enough is enough': Shark nets to be fast tracked
TRADITIONAL shark nets are set to be trialled on Far North Coast Beaches as soon as possible following a shark attack at Broken Head today.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair announced the State Government will introduce a Bill in the last session this year to legalise a six-month trial of shark nets across the region that will begin shortly after the legislation is finalised.
Fast-tracking shark net trials on our beaches coincides with Ballina Shire councillor Sharon Cadwallader's renewed push to expand shark mitigation strategies.
"Enough is enough, there is a groundswell happening here (in terms of shark attacks)," Cr Cadwallader said.
Part of Cr Cadwallader's notice of motion, to be tabled on Thursday night, proposed the introduction of shark net trials - which she thinks must run along the shire's coast line.
"How can you say it will serve the community better to just net Lighthouse Beach or just Shelley Beach or just Lennox?," Cr Cadwallader said.
"I just don't know how you can do that I think our beaches while we have this issue, I think we need to have the nets all the way through."
Cr Cadwallader said her campaign for netting doesn't rule out the need for the introduction of non-lethal shark prevention measures.
"They (the community) are looking for some level of protection while we are waiting for innovation to catch up," she said.
"We know that shark nets aren't the be and end all, we know that they aren't fail safe but it's going to offer some sense of protection.
"I'm not saying stop looking for better solutions but in the meantime please, let's have some surety."
Protection measures for marine wildlife is also reported to be implemented along with the State Government's net trials.
Byron Shire mayor, Simon Richardson slammed the State Government's move to implement shark nets, calling the trials an emotionally charged policy. He also questioned the government's ability to protect and prevent marine animals entangling themselves in the controversial nets.
"We need to make smart decisions not just emotional decisions," Cr Richardson said.
Cr Richardson cited effective, non-lethal alternatives tested in the Byron Shire in the last year, including the shark spotting program at Wattegos Beach.
He called on the State Government to partner with the council to help them protect ocean goers and marine life.
Cr Cadwallader said other factors in the shark attack debate must be taken into account, despite the inevitable negative impacts the nets will inflict on marine life.
"We have the reputation of being such a hotspot now, it's affecting of economy and that affects people's lives as well. You have to weigh it all up at the end of the day," she said.
Former mayor of Manly Council, Jean Hay and her previous councils have too faced community conflicts with installing shark nets.
Ms Hay said the use of shark nets was a difficult issue to navigate during her 12 years as mayor.
"Nobody likes to see the beautiful fish caught (in the nets)," Ms Hay said.
"It's a very difficult issue. I can understand why the community is divided on it."