Surfers relieved by decision for shark nets

UPDATE 7.50am: THE president of the Le-Ba Boardriders, Don Munro, has thanked the government for their announcement that five North Coast beaches would receive shark nets before the school holidays.

"I've just received news from DPI that the nets will be installed on all Ballina beaches from North Wall to Lennox and also at Evans and they will be installed by early December,"  Mr Munro said in a Facebook post.

"Thank you to the federal and state governments for supporting out call for nets at these beaches!"

Do you want shark nets installed on the North Coast?

This poll ended on 16 November 2016.

Current Results

Yes

33%

No

66%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Some commenters on the Facebook post shared Mr Munro's joy.

"Great work donny!! Until all these other people have one of these big killing machines take one of there friends or family they will never understand," Ty Smith said.

"So good i was wondering if Evans would be included. Great news!" Kailie Hetherington said.

However others weren't so pleased.

"Sad day if you want to play in the ocean then take responsibility for your actions. I have been surfing and playing I the water for over 50 years I do understand the concerns it's just like when I go for a ride on my motorcycle I put myself out there and I accept that I might not come back the same as I left , you want to play in their backyard then take responsibility," Graeme Sommers said.

"Sharks are far more important than a leisure sport...... Such a sad day!" Cathy Gilmore said.

 

WEDNESDAY 6.30am: LEGISLATION will be introduced to the NSW Parliament today to fast-track a trial of mesh nets on five beaches on the NSW North Coast, it has been announced.

Following extensive community consultation, the locations where the nets will be trialled has been selected: Lighthouse Beach, Sharpes Beach and Shelly Beach at Ballina, Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head and Evans Head Beach.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said the community consultation had demonstrated strong support for these five beaches, and for the six-month trial of the nets.

MORE: Hammer falls on sharks, native vegetation protections

"The NSW Government has consistently said all options are on the table to deal with the rise in shark attacks on the North Coast - we now know that the local community is in strong support for the trial of nets," Mr Blair said.

"We've surveyed the North Coast community over the last fortnight - through an online survey, and also a targeted phone survey of Evans Head and Ballina residents - and a majority of respondents support a trial of nets.

"Our legislation - to be introduced to NSW Parliament tomorrow - will allow this trial to be fast-tracked, so that we can have nets in the water in time for the summer school holidays."

The nets will be tested in a number of environments to give the trial the best chance of success before the six month campaign gets underway.

This will involve assessing how easily the nets can be pulled in and out of the water, how they operate in shallow waters and potential enhancements with SMART technologies.

The nets will complement the other measures in place under our $16 million Shark Management Strategy, including smart drumlines, more VR4G stations to identify tagged sharks, increased traditional aerial surveillance and trials of drone surveillance.

The phone poll of 600 Ballina and Evans Head residents also had strong results:

  • 57% were 'extremely' or 'very' concerned for the community about shark bites
  • 54% felt the trial would have a positive impact on the community, compared with
  • 12% who felt it would have a negative impact
  • 63% of surfers felt the trial would have a positive impact.

More than 5400 people also participated in an online survey and dropped in to a community stand in Ballina, with those results similarly supportive of the trial, with 61% of surfers believing it would be a positive initiative for the area.

Meanwhile, NSW Labor have announced they will provide in-principle support to a bill to legalise the Baird Government's long promised six-month trial of shark nets on the North Coast.

Following yesterday's announcement when the Baird Government gave notice of the Fisheries Management Amendment (Shark Management Trials) Bill - and indicated that it would reveal the full bill's contents today.

But NSW Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord and NSW Shadow Primary Industries Minister Mick Veitch said while they provided cautious in-principle support, they reserved the right to move amendments to ensure protections to limit the impact on marine life.

Labor said the Baird Government had to legislate soon - if it wanted to have the shark nets in place by the summer holidays.

Labor said the Baird Government had bungled its response to the spate of shark attacks - and its delay had put swimmers and surfers at risk and had affected tourist operations on the North Coast.

Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord said: "The Baird Government has bungled its response and they should get their act together."

"It is just a matter of time before we get another attack. The North Coast needs those nets. The Baird Government is all talk and no action."

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Mick Veitch said: "Shark nets are in place in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, but they are not on the North Coast."

"If the Baird Government does not act soon, it will not be able to put those nets in place for summer."



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