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Shark net trial slammed as an 'epic fail'

IN IT GOES: The controversial shark nets were deployed on five Far North Coast beaches yesterday.
IN IT GOES: The controversial shark nets were deployed on five Far North Coast beaches yesterday. Marc Stapelberg

MODIFICATIONS to the North Coast's shark nets - which were deployed on five beaches yesterday - have been slammed by Ballina MP Tamara Smith.

She said that three years ago the government pledged it would use evidence-based data science to inform their strategies.

"The report came in and it said 'epic fail'," she said.

"It said it didn't catch target species but it did catch many other endangered and critical species."

Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the latest trial would provide more data to address some of the issues raised.

"The safety of beach goers remains our number one priority but we have undertaken a review of the first trial and made some modifications in a bid to reduce by-catch," he said.

The nets will have a larger mesh size and will sit closer to the surface. The nets will again be fitted with dolphin 'pingers' and whale alarms.

Ms Smith said the modification of larger mesh was a "crazy notion" that "didn't make any sense".

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is opening a community drop-in stand at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach today to inform the public about the six-month trial.

Concerned community members plan a rally tomorrow and swimming under the nets at Lennox Head.

Skipper of marine conservation yacht Migaloo 2 Dean Jefferys organised the event 'Shark Nets don't work, Rally and Paddle out on Saturday at Lennox Head in response to the deployment of nets.

"Concerned people will swim under the shark nets to help dispel the fallacy that the nets are a total barrier and that sharks and like humans, can swim under the nets." he said.

Mr Jefferys also sent a letter to the Ballina Chamber of Commerce and the Ballina Mayor asking for a meeting.

"It seems like we have no option than to proceed with the international campaign to encourage local people and overseas tourists to visit and spend their money at non-netted beaches," he said.

Topics:  ballina dpi lighthouse beach northern rivers envrionment shark net trial


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