Shark nets ‘too political’ for top lifesaver

DOZENS of beaches in New South Wales are protected by shark nets - but there is not a net installed north of Newcastle.

In total, 51 beaches are netted between Newcastle and Wollongong, according to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

While Tweed has not been a hotspot for shark attacks, there has been several incidents at beaches including Ballina and Byron Bay since 2008.

No shark nets or drumlines were in place at Salt Beach near Kingscliff when a Tugun man, 60, was fatally attacked by a great white shark while surfing on Sunday.

A shark spotted off Salt Beach after the attack on Sunday
A shark spotted off Salt Beach after the attack on Sunday

Surf Life Saving NSW duty officer Jimmy Keogh said drones used to watch over Tweed beaches are tasked to incidents including shark attacks, but are not in routine operation.

He would not address whether shark nets should be installed in Tweed and northern NSW and said the issue was "too political".

DPI has not made public any plans to install nets in the region, despite shark net trials which were undertaken at five beaches between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Those beaches were: Lennox Head, Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina) Lighthouse Beach (Ballina) and Evans Head.

Smart drumlines are being trialled at Ballina and the Richmond Valley beaches.

The DPI advised there is a real-time shark listening station located opposite the Kingscliff Surf Life Saving Club.

Surf Life Saving NSW duty officer Jimmy Keogh. Picture: Luke Mortimer
Surf Life Saving NSW duty officer Jimmy Keogh. Picture: Luke Mortimer

"No tagged sharks were detected on this station (Sunday), or the Byron Bay Shark Listening station located around 50km south at Clarkes Beach," a spokeswoman said.

Beachgoers were urged to follow Surf Life Saving NSW safety advice and to download the DPI's SharkSmart app. It includes sightings and tagged shark detections.

Far North Coast Life Saving will be "proactively patrolling" after the attack.

Most beaches on the Gold Coast are protected by netting or drumlines.

Originally published as Shark nets 'too political' for top lifesaver


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