Today the NSW Government announced the approval of a 6 month trial for shark nets after a string of shark attacks in the area dating back to 2000. The installation of shark nets has commenced in Ballina.
The new laws are enacted just in time for the start of Schoolies and summer holidays.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, has previously said: “No one measure can stop shark attacks, but this trial of traditional nets will complement our existing $16 million Shark Management Strategy, and help reduce the risk of further attacks.”
The call for a trial came hard on the heels of a shark attack at Broken Head near Byron Bay last month which a surfer was bitten on the thigh. It also followed prolonged opposition from some north coast locals and environment groups.
Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager with Humane Society International, said that the initial announcement of the trial was “extremely disappointing.”
Ms Wellbelove told the Sydney Morning Herald even a six- month trial of shark nets “could be quite significant”.
“If the critically endangered grey nurse shark, particularly a female, is caught in the nets it would have a significant impact on that population. The loss of just a couple of females is potentially devastating,” she said.
Prior to the latest attack at Broken Head a 17-year- old surfer was mauled by a shark while surfing with a friend at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina.
The NSW government last year mounted a series of shark attack prevention measures, including a tagging and tracking program, in northern NSW waters after a number, of attacks including at Lighthouse Beach. The measures did not include the tradition nets that are about to be trialled.
There have been 19 shark attacks between Byron Bay and Evans Head between 2000 and 2015. Four of those were at Lighthouse Beach and two at Lennox Head.
It will be interesting to see how effective this trial is over the coming months.