Shark barriers may be an eco solution
A TRIAL of "eco nets" on two North Coast beaches this summer will give swimmers peace of mind.
The barriers are the design of Western Australia company Eco Shark Barrier, and have been trialed on Coogee beach in Perth.
Non-traditional shark nets
Unlike traditional nets they are built from thick lengths of rigid nylon that can last up to 10 years, and form a completely enclosed swimming area from "seabed to surface, shoreline to shoreline".
Another benefit is the Eco Shark Barriers have killed no marine life to date, because they act like a wall rather than a net.
They are also "100% recyclable" and cleaned and ground up at the end of their 10-year life to make new products.
While the Perth trial location is protected from big swells, the company says the barriers can easily be rolled out to swell-heavy beaches such as those on the North Coast.
"The barrier has been designed to withstand high energy beaches, with allowances to add strength as required," the website says.
"The design allows a 6mm Plasma rope to be threaded through the barrier at 300mm intervals which has a breaking strain of 3 ½ tonne at each rope placement. Spread across the barrier, (this) produces an incredibly strong barrier.
"The barrier is totally adaptable in depth, length and strength, allowing it to fit any beach in any conditions. The floats are removable - if for any reason the barrier needs to be lowered.
Ballina mayor David Wright speculated that one drawback of the design is that it might be prohibitively expensive for use at headlands such as Lennox Point where surfers congregate.
"(But) at least it will give the swimmers peace of mind - that's good for tourism," Cr Wright said.
"I'm just pleased the government are trying things. I know if there was something out there they could use off the headlands they'd try that as well."
The barriers will be funded from $7.7 million allocated by the NSW Government for a range of shark surveillance, detection and deterrent measures which also include air patrols and 4G shark tracking stations which can provide real time locations to smartphones and tablets.
That's part of a larger $16 million package which includes another $7 million for science and research (including more tagging) and $1.3 million for community awareness focused on bolstering the existing SharkSmart program.
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