SHARK SHOCK: Byron mayor urges a calm debate when it comes to sharks mitigation strategies.
SHARK SHOCK: Byron mayor urges a calm debate when it comes to sharks mitigation strategies. Contributed

Council votes against nets

BYRON Shire Council has re-affirmed its opposition to the use of shark nets on the shire's beaches passing a motion 7-2 against the state government deploying nets.

Councillors Paul Spooner and Alan Hunter voted against the motion.

The vote comes in the face of a state governments decision to introduce a bill to parliament to legalise a six month trial of "Gold Coast” style nets before Christmas

Instead Byron Council will push for the use of other non-lethal methods of shark mitigation including shark spotting, the use of gyrocopter patrols and drone trials.

But with the state government having ultimate say over the use of nets off the NSW coastline, Mayor Simon Richardson fears the state may impose nets on the Byron Shire.

Council representatives will meet with the Department of Primary Industries tomorrow to look at non-lethal methods of shark mitigation.

"The community has a right to feel protected but at the same time we need to respect differences of opinion within the community on this issue,” said Cr Richardson.

"It's a very emotive issue and hard to have a rational conversation about it, but we need to stop having knee jerk reactions about this and have a logical conversation about the strategies.”

The motion noted that, "Council is frustrated and disappointed that to date requests for ongoing state government funding support for shark spotter and gyrocopter programs has not been forthcoming and our community is left feeling vulnerable and unheard.”

Council will liaise with Sea Shepard and Shark Watch Ballina to conduct shark spotting trials at the Pass, Cosy Corner and Broken Head, and to prepare for a summer holiday spotting program at Wategos.

Council will ask the state government to allow a trial gyrocopter surveillance program for beaches in the Byron Shire working in collaboration with surf lifesaving services. The state government will also be approached to conduct drone trials in the shire.

Currently on the weekends there are twice daily helicopter surveillance flight of the region.

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