Eco warriors caught at Ballina shark nets

The Sea Shepherd flag may soon be a regular sight around Ballina beaches.
The Sea Shepherd flag may soon be a regular sight around Ballina beaches. DENIS THAÜST

SEA Shepherd activists, including divers and jet skis, were caught checking out shark nets at Ballina's Lighthouse beach on Sunday.

Ballina Lighthouse Lismore Surf Life Saving Club President Craig Nowlan was on duty when he saw two divers enter the water near the shark nets at Lighthouse Beach.

"We went out in our inflatable rescue boat and reminded them of the exclusion zone around the nets," he said.

"They got out and took back off again."

Police later spoke to the Sea Shepherd activists at the Fishery Creek boat ramp but made no arrests. They passed details on to the DPI but no fines were issued.

Jonathan Clark, who coordinates Sea Shepherd's Apex Harmony campaign in Queensland, identified himself as one of two jet ski drivers visiting shark nets on Sunday.

"We weren't flying a flag, we weren't making it obvious who we were, but we have done this in the past and we will again in future," Mr Clark said.

"The last thing we want to do is cause problems, we're as concerned as anyone about sea safety."

Mr Clark said he and his team were simply there to document the impact of the nets on potential by-catch such as dolphins, turtles and endangered grey nurse sharks.

"When we go to look we are there to record and document what's going on there, we are not there to touch anything, I brief my crew to do nothing illegal."

He and his team inspected nets at Lighthouse, Shelley and Sharpes Beaches.

Mr Clarke said Sea Shepherd planned to be on scene if marine wildlife was ever caught in the nets to record actions of first responders.

"When we get (footage) that is worth releasing we will release it publicly," he said.

"So far there has been information released about sharks that have been in the nets but nothing about the rest of the by-catch, they're leaving by-catch to the monthly reports."

Mr Clark said authorities made no objections when he told them Sea Shepherd would be checking nets again.

DPI Minister Niall Blair has been asked to comment.

Topics:  ballina nsw department of primary industries sea shepherd shark shark net shark net trial sharks

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