SHARK CATCH: The large tiger shark caught off Pottsville last week.
SHARK CATCH: The large tiger shark caught off Pottsville last week. Contributed

Culling of sharks and netting calls dismissed by expert

SHARK expert Dr Daniel Bucher from Southern Cross University has condemned calls for a limited cull of sharks around the North Coast and dismissed the idea of shark netting.

Instead Dr Bucher, senior lecturer in Marine Biology and Fisheries at Southern Cross University, is calling on local surfers to wait out conditions that have drawn sharks here.

"I am really disappointed with the Le Ba surfers calling for the limited cull of sharks in the Ballina Shire," he said.

"The majority of surfers I know including the students I teach at SCU are in favour of non lethal deterrents being used.

"This is a very selfish attitude that says - I can't go surfing in these conditions so please go out there and kill some endangered species for me."

Dr Bucher has praised the state government in delivering more resources and for not endorsing any shark cull.

The NSW government has committed resources for shark tagging by the DPI and CSIRO as part of a multi agency response to the problem that will include local police, surf life saving, local councils and SCU.

"Tagging is useful but it will not tell if a beach is safe, you would have to tag everything," he said.

"It will tell you if it is the same individual shark or whether it is the conditions keeping the sharks here.

"I suspect it's a floating population of sharks here because of the conditions.

"But if it is an individual the best thing to do is buzz it with a jet ski or deploy one of the other sonic deterrents available."

Dr Bucher said nets were unsuitable to use on our high energy local beaches with their powerful surf and shifting sand banks.

"Barrier nets are only useful for protected water ways like those on the Gold Coast," he said.

"And nets are also just another culling device, when a great white or other marine life gets caught in a net, it dies."

Dr Bucher has also labelled last week's Facebook pictures of the large tiger shark killed off Pottsville as a "Cecil the Lion" moment.

Pictures of the large shark, taken legally by professional fisherman Matthew, were also front page news around the world as were pictures of Cecil, a well known lion killed in Zimbabwe by US dentist Walter Palmer.

"You could clearly see the shark had been caught on a drum line and shot in the head and I find that every bit as disturbing as the pictures of Cecil," he said.

"These big sharks are every bit as awesome as the lions in Africa except they are not cute and fluffy."

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson has also come out against any shark cull.

"At this stage I don't support it and I haven't heard too many scientists talking about shark killing as being the answer," he said.

"But I hear people's concerns and I hear people's fears and I am looking to follow up with the DPI.

"We will be putting our shire forward to take part in any case studies and ask that any trials take place here in Byron Bay

"But above all we need to ensure everything is done from a rigorously scientific point of view - emotion should not be the determining factor in how we address this problem.

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