When diving in Lennox Head Sea Shepherd divers found a 1.5m Dusky Whaler shark, not long dead in the net. (Photo: Sea Shepherd Australia).
When diving in Lennox Head Sea Shepherd divers found a 1.5m Dusky Whaler shark, not long dead in the net. (Photo: Sea Shepherd Australia).

Have you heard of SMART drumlines, Tony?

BALLINA MP Tamara Smith said she thought former prime minister Tony Abbott's call for shark nets to return to the North Coast as "nothing more than a stunt".

Speaking on 2GB radio yesterday, Mr Abbott said if shark nets were good enough for beaches in Sydney and surrounds, then they should be satisfactory for the North Coast.

"If the meshing nets, which have done such a great job off Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle beaches for about 80 years are good for those beaches, let's see those meshing nets extend to the North Coast," Mr Abbott said.

Ms Smith said it was all politics.

"I think it's part in parcel of the Coalition at the moment. They've just had a 29 per cent swing against them. You know when Tony's commenting it's all about trying to move them to the right.

"To me it's a very thinly veiled move to the right, because the science is clear cut.

"If you look at his modus operandi, (Mr Abbott) comes out and sledges when he think the Coalition isn't being right-wing enough and I think that's what he is doing here."

Mr Abbott's calls are at odds with the decision last month of Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair not to conduct a third North Coast meshing trial, after results showed SMART drumlines were more effective in targeting dangerous sharks.

"We're going off the numbers. The SMART drumlines have intercepted far many more target sharks than the nets," Mr Blair said last month after announcing the discontinuation of the meshing trial.

Meanwhile Nationals candidate for Ballina Ben Franklin challenged Mr Abbott's assertion, saying that North Coast beaches are different to those around Sydney, and thus need different protections.

"We know how effective SMART drumlines have been along the North Coast," Mr Franklin said.

"They're not used in Sydney, maybe Mr Abbott doesn't know about them. But they are very effective up on the North Coast...We still have the option to put back the shark nets if there is a necessity to do so."

Ms Smith said she thought SMART drumlines gave more knowledge about great whites and their behaviours and "drone technology was where we've landed".

"It's a pity the millions spent on nets could've done five or six years of shark watch in both Byron and Ballina shires," she said.



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