The first shark net will be installed at a North Coast beach tomorrow.
The first shark net will be installed at a North Coast beach tomorrow. Contributed

'Tomorrow will be a sad day for marine life'

UPDATE, 2.45pm: "TOMORROW will be sad day for local marine life".

Sarah Cooper's comment on the story about the North Coast's first shark net being installed at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach seemed to hit a nerve.

She found plenty of support on The Northern Star's Facebook page, where Edwina Browning wrote: "Breaks my heart, nobody cares! So entitled! So uneducated on the nets and sharks! Just kill everything so you can go swimming and surfing!"

Greg Turner wrote: "It's only for the surfers, no swimmers have been attacked. A lot of money for a small amount of people."

Karen McBurney-Bickmore posted that she sailed all around Byron yesterday and didn't see one shark.

"Lots of turtles and a few dolphins," she wrote. "Good luck to those who have to release these beautiful animals from the nets."

Nikki Daley asked: "Did the people not have their say? We didn't want one!"

And Gabrielle Murphy wrote: "No nets. Who is monitoring the effects to other marine life? Nobody."

But Steve Wallace said he was sick of hearing that nets "just kill everything" and said people were "ill-informed".

Duncan Hope, who replied to many of the anti-net comments, said people did want nets and that had been shown by the DPI surveys.

Children from northern NSW show their support for marine wildlife at a rally against shark nets in the area
Children from northern NSW show their support for marine wildlife at a rally against shark nets in the area Mia Armitage

UPDATE, 12.10pm: AN OUTSPOKEN opponent of shark nets says she is in "shock" over the government's sudden announcement one will be deployed tomorrow.

Kathrina Southwell, general manager of Australian Seabird Rescue, has advised all supporters to gather on Lighthouse Beach tomorrow and wear blue in support of the conservation group's cause.

Ms Southwell also said she was hoping the swell picked up overnight so the nets couldn't be deployed, or otherwise prove the "impossibility" in some conditions of rescuing entangled animals.

"We weren't expecting the nets until the 8th of December," she said.

"We're in shock to find out there may be a net rolled out tomorrow."

Seabird Rescue has consistently advocated against shark nets due to their potential impact on endangered turtles.

"My concern all along is there is the possibility for turtles to become entangled in those nets," she said.

Last month the group staged a rally on Lighthouse Beach to raise awareness about the issue at which hundreds of people turned out.

As a result of its staunch opposition to the net trial, Ms Southwell said the organisation had been attacked on social media, with critics labelling her a "boffin" and "a scientist that didn't use the ocean".

However, she said the organisation was committed to working constructively with the DPI on managing the issue, rather than against them.

She said the organisation was helping design a procedure for disentangling marine life and would be included in any procedure involving turtles.


UPDATE, 11.15am: BALLINA Shire mayor David Wright has warned beachgoers that shark nets are not a "panacea" to the shark threat, even though he has publicly supported the State Government's shark net trial.

NSW Premier Mike Baird's office has announced this morning the first of five shark nets will be deployed tomorrow at Lighthouse Beach after Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg yesterday gave the final stamp of approval for the six month trial to go ahead.

But Cr Wright advised people to be realistic about what the nets would achieve.

"It's not going to be the panacea that most people think, but we'll see what happens," he said.

"I've got my doubts."

"The sharks can swim over it, they can swim around it if they want to.

"The reason it works in Sydney is they have smaller beaches, and they've got more lifeguards. It's the combination."

Despite his misgivings, Cr Wright said he backed the shark net trial because the proposal had "overwhelming" support in Ballina based on the DPI's public consultation with phone and online surveys, and the opening of pop-up information booths.

"The majority of people in the Shire believe we should trial the nets," he said.

Cr Wright said he would be asking the Premier to confirm whether the government was committing to set up alert stations on the headlands which would let surfers and swimmers know when a tagged shark had been detected.


ORIGINAL STORY: NSW PREMIER Mike Baird's office has announced the first shark net on the North Coast will be deployed tomorrow.

The Premier will also make a flying visit to the North Coast tomorrow morning to watch the deployment first-hand and meet with local community groups, business owners and surfers.

The NSW Government received the final tick of approval yesterday from Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to deploy the nets, after it passed the Management Amendment (Shark Management Trials) Bill 2016 in Parliament on Tuesday night.

Five shark nets will be trialled for six months at Seven Mile Beach, Sharpes Beach, Shelly Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Evans Head.

The Department of Primary Industries has selected a contractor which will oversee the rollout and management of the trial.

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