Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson says a
Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson says a "terrifying” number of sharks are being caught by drumlines off the North Coast. Twitter: SharkSmart

We should be concerned about 'terrifying' number of sharks

BALLINA Shire councillor Jeff Johnson is a strong environmental advocate, and his decision to support shark nets might shock some people.

Here, he explains why he agrees with trial of nets:

"At a briefing from the DPI (Department of Primary Industries) that I attended a couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that the eight drum lines on the Northern Rivers had already caught more than 40 great white sharks.

"That is a terrifying number, particularly considering that all of these great whites are being released.

"While only two of the sharks caught had previously been tagged, surely at the very least there needs to be consideration for return 'visitors' to our beaches to be removed.

"The DPI briefing also made it clear that the State Government has already made the decision to begin a trial of shark nets in the Ballina Shire.

"I fully support the trial and believe that Ballina Council needs to work with the State Government to ensure that all possible measures are taken to both minimise the by-catch and to have an early release program in place.

"The nets that will be installed will have a range of 'pinging' and other sound devices to warn animals, and senses to alert authorities when an animal gets entangled.

"While I'll still be doing all I can to convince the State Government to also subsidise Shark Shields and fund the Shelly Beach ocean pool, it is clear that with 13 shark attacks in our region over the last 18 months, we need to do more to protect our community.

"As a regular beach goer my primary concern isn't for the great white shark, it's for our community and it's for our children.

"I'm not sure why there is such an outcry over killing sharks.

"Where's the outcry about the commercial fisheries clearing our oceans of all the salmon and tuna?

"I consider myself a practical environmentalist and when looking at the bigger picture while the inevitable by-catch is regrettable it's not going to have a significant impact on any threatened species.

"Even if the nets only save one life then that's something I'm going to support any day of the week."

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