CAUGHT: Activists and shark net contractors clash on camera

Tuesday 1.30pm: A SPOKESPERSON from Roads and Maritime Services said they are in the early stages of investigating an incident involving a shark net contractor on the NSW Far North Coast after a vessel incident report was referred from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Video and other supporting evidence has been received and formal interviews are being organised.

They said it would be inappropriate to comment further on the investigation at this stage.

Under marine safety legislation, skippers must always remain a safe distance from fixed objects and other vessels and stay well clear of divers.

 

Tuesaday 12.30pm: SEA Shepherd have complained about the behaviour of a shark-meshing contractor near some of their conservation activists who were diving near shark nets at Lennox Head.

So, what are the rules and laws surrounding divers and shark nets?

On their website,  Maritime Management Centre, Transport for NSW states personal responsibility of boat skippers and divers is to understand the meaning of the International Code flag A (commonly known as the Alpha flag) which signals that divers are under the water and that boats need to keep clear at least 60 metres clear when travelling at speeds of 10 knots or more.

Ballina Mayor, David Wright said Sea Shepard are allowed to dive near the nets but are exempt from touching them, among fear divers may get entangled themselves.

He said the reason it may cause an issue is if divers were interfering with contractors doing their job by impeding the contractors vessel.

A NSW Department of Primary Industries  spokesperson said: " The NSWDPI understands a formal complaint has been lodged with RMS in relation to this matter.

"NSWDPI reminds people that they should not swim or take their boat or craft near the nets, nor handle or otherwise interfere with the nets.

"It is an offence to interfere with or vandalise the nets.  It carries a maximum penalty of $22,000."
 

Tuesday 7.40am: MARINE conservation activists have had a run in with a shark net contractor off the North Coast.

The incident was captured in a video posted by ABC North Coast.

The marine conservation group Sea Shepherd said there is no reason why its divers should not be allowed to inspect shark nets off the north coast.

Jonathan Clark from Sea Shepherd has lodged a complaint about the behaviour of a local shark-meshing contractor.

He told the ABC a boat came dangerously close to divers who were checking the nets near Lennox Head last week.

Mr Clark said while Sea Shepherd was opposed to the meshing program, its members do not interfere with the nets.

"We don't touch them," he said.

"I've been the skipper of our boat each and every time we've been down there, and part of my very clear instructions to my crew is they we do nothing illegal.

"There is no exclusion zone on those nets, my divers are instructed absolutely not to touch anything.

"We go down there with cameras to take all of those images, we don't advocate going down there any doing anything illegal.

"We're down there to monitor and just bring some transparency to what goes on there.

"DPI does release data, we're just there to make sure that somebody is watching and keeping on top of it.

"With that data that's gone out there, we're not 100 per cent sure that it's completely accurate."

A formal complaint had been lodged with RMS in relation to the matter, the Department of Primary Industries reported, but reminded people they should not swim or take any craft near the nets.

Interfering with or vandalising the nets carries a maximum penalty of $22,000.



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