Greens fight and fuss but shark nets are coming
A SPATE of shark attacks and failed attempts to find an eco-friendly alternative means mesh nets known to kill dolphins and other non-shark species are almost certain to be rolled out at New South Wales North Coast beaches.
The NSW Government has reversed its opposition to installing the nets and announced plans to launch a six-month trial on the North Coast before the summer holidays.
The policy shift brings the government in line with NSW Labor, meaning the shark net legislation will pass through parliament when introduced next month despite Greens opposition.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said he wanted to get the nets into the water "as soon as possible".
"Marine life is important, which is why DPI's world-leading fisheries experts are investigating how mesh nets might be improved to avoid unnecessary entanglements, but protecting human life is our first priority," he said.
The Greens may lack the numbers to sway the vote, but they have vowed to fight until the bitter end.
NSW still needs Commonwealth Government approval to go ahead with the plan.
Upper house MP Justin Field on Tuesday launched the Greens' six-point Non-Lethal Response to Shark Management in NSW plan to challenge the shark net scheme.
"It recognises the need to put science at the centre of any solutions and enables the community to develop our understanding of sharks and to find new deterrent technologies," he said.
"Shark nets are an outdated technology and we can do better.
"There have been 21 shark encounters on netted beaches in the last 23 years.
"Shark nets can't guarantee public safety and we need to be honest about that instead of painting them as the solution.
"What we do know is that shark nets kill hundreds of marine animals including dolphins and turtles and non-target and endangered sharks - communities don't want that collateral damage."
The Greens' plan included supporting the roll-out of Shark Watch NSW and other community-led ocean observer programs, increasing funding for tagging programs and funding observer towers for at-risk beaches.
"Governments can't fully remove the risk of shark bites but people want a science-based approach and support for local solutions, not a political fix for the government," Mr Field said.