The trial nets are similar to those used in the Newcastle to Wollongong shark meshing area, where there has been only one fatality at a netted beach in more than 70 years. There may be some possible modifications to operational procedures to suit local conditions.
After extensive consultation with the local community, the beaches at which nets will be trialled are Lighthouse Beach, Shelly Beach and Sharpes Beach at Ballina, Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head and Evans Head Beach.
The nets will be fitted with whale alarms and dolphin ‘pingers’ to deter marine mammals and reduce unintended by-catch.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the legislation was an important step towards getting the shark net trial in place on the North Coast by the summer school holidays.
The traditional nets will complement the Government’s $16 million NSW Shark Management Strategy, which has increased aerial surveillance and up to 100 smart drumlines being installed, as well as is testing of new technologies including drones.
The NSW Government has also opened this year’s round of funding applications under the Observation Tower Grants program, which has been increased to a total of $200,000 to further support the Shark Management Strategy.
The towers provide a clearer line of vision for surf lifesavers and lifeguards to spot sharks, and assist in monitoring beach conditions. Applications are now open for coastal councils, Surf Life Saving NSW and the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards.