You have had the final say on whether or not we should have shark nets on the North Coast.
You have had the final say on whether or not we should have shark nets on the North Coast. Contributed

Final results of shark net poll from our readers


Web - Do you want a trial of mesh shark nets on the Northern Rivers?

Yes - 45%

No - 54%

495 people voted.

Facebook - Post 'yes' if you want shark nets or 'no' if you disagree.

Yes - 13

No - 27

INITIAL: THERE have been plenty of opinions thrown around by those who don't live on the North Coast, regarding shark nets off our beaches.

We thought we would ask some of our local leaders and residents what their opinion about installing shark nets was and why.

We will continue to update this story as comments come in.

Shadow Minister for the North Coast, Walt Secord

While Labor acknowledges that there are significant concerns about the impact of shark nets on other marine life, in particular dolphins, turtles, grey nurse and hammerhead sharks, it would support a trial, if it is

accompanied by resources and technology that provides alerts - such as pingers - when there is something caught in the nets - supported by human patrols that can remove marine life that is caught.

Surf Life Saving NSW

The organisation has declined to be drawn into the debate over shark nets, but has stated that they will work closely with government on the issue.

"Surf Life Saving NSW is aware there is widespread community debate about the effectiveness of various shark mitigation strategies and we understand the concern within the community on the North Coast," a Surf Lifesaving NSW spokesperson said.

"We will continue to work closely with the DPI and the NSW Government to support ongoing public awareness strategies and trials of shark mitigation equipment.

"Our lifesaving assets including the Australian Lifeguard Service are available to assist with water surveillance and beach closures as requested by councils and police."

Ballina Chamber of Commerce

Mike Baird, in his explanation for his sudden backflip on shark nets, said his change of heart was led by shifting surfer sentiment and driven by local business.

"Local businesses have been suffering - especially in tourism. As we approach summer, people want us to take action," he said.

The Ballina Chamber of Commerce, however, have not been so quick to back up Baird.

Executive Officer Nadia Eliott-Burgess said a formal statement from the business community about shark nets would come after its next monthly board meeting, where nets will be discussed as the top priority.

"Because it is an emotive issue, we don't want to shoot from the hip," she said.  

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith

Ms Smith explained the reason why Mr Baird was seeking permission from the federal government to make a special exemption to a moratorium on shark nets.

"This moratorium is in place because shark nets are an outdated technology that is not effective," she said.

It's not a complete barrier and it kills everything in its wake."

Ms Smith presented the DPI with a funding proposal for a volunteer-based shark spotter group, Shark Watch NSW, which also employed drone technology.

However, the net plan would mean that NSW Shark Watch group would be sidelined and that the group would have to crowdfund the $50,000 needed to establish the non-lethal and proven shark mitigation strategy.

Niall Blair - Minister of DPI

"The design and implementation of this trial, including locations, will be guided by consultation with the North Coast community - which is what has occurred at every stage of the implementation of our Shark Management Strategy," Mr Blair said.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries will convene a meeting of the North Coast Shark Management Strategy Community Reference Group as soon as possible, to discuss the decision and design of the trial.

Byron Shire Mayor

Cr Simon Richardson has called for calm in the wake of another shark attack and the proposed netting on the North Coast.

Cr Richardson has requested that the state government support other non-lethal methods including gyrocopter surveillance as a method of dealing with the situation.

"I stand with the Byron Community, as does the rest of council to call for intelligent, respectful, effective and non-lethal measures to allow humans and non-humans to co-exist," he said.

"We've all made hasty and ill-conceived decisions when we are in an emotional state that we later regret.

"The fear of sharks bring out in us a freeze, fight or flight survival response.

"However, leaders need to be able to rise above emotional reaction and find a way to make sound, reasonable and evidence based decisions."

Australian Seabird Rescue

Vice president Keith Williams said if we install nets on our North Coast beaches we can expect, in the first few months, we will see up to twenty dolphins dead in the nets.

Mr Williams said they would be doing everything they could to convince state and federal governments not to go down this route and asked locals to make their voice heard on the issue.

"The idea that we put nets in as a trial - I think that's an absolute abuse of the word of the term trial," he said.

"The people that come and see the turtles at our hospital in Ballina - these are exactly the turtles that will be killed by the nets.

"There is a real risk that the nets will kill more turtles than we have been able to save so far.

"So it really does feel like something that is directly undermining the work we are doing."

Ballina Mayor

Cr David Wright has stated he would not be in favour of shark nets if the DPI was not able to release trapped dolphins and turtles.

"The ordinary killing nets - I would not support that at all," he said.

"If they can work out some sort of smart net and the people of the shire want that after consultation, well I will support it.

"The point I'm making is if they want to have a way that protects humans and marine life then maybe it needs to be designed.

"I have written to the minister and the premier asking for a whole swag of things.

"We had all this protection through the holidays and all of a sudden it is all gone.

"We need drones back, more lifeguards and those towers and they need to start as soon as possible."

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