North Coast shark net trial.
North Coast shark net trial. Department of Primary Industries

Senator hopes to bring Shark Inquiry to Northern Rivers

A FEDERAL inquiry into shark mitigation aims to take the politics out of the debate, according to the senator chairing the inquiry.

Tasmanian Greens senator, Peter Whish-Wilson said the Senate Standing Committee seeks to remove the "fear and emotion" from the shark conversation Australia wide.

Mr Whish-Wilson wants to examine shark management strategies "from all different angles" to most effectively manage what he described as a "national issue".

It is expected the first inquiry hearings will be held on Friday, March 17 where multiple stakeholders, including local council representatives, surfers and scientific experts, will give evidence.

Mr Whish-Wilson said he is pushing for one of the hearings to be held on the Northern Rivers or the Gold Coast.

"I'm going to do my best to get a hearing on the North Coast," Mr Whish-Wilson said.

He said more than 30 submissions are being processed by the Senate Committee with the total submission count estimated to be between 40-50.

The number of submissions drove Mr Whish-Wilson to consider an evaluation of advertising strategies that promote public submissions for Senate inquiries.

About a third of the submissions are from community groups relating to areas such as conservation and surfing, Mr Whish-Wilson said.

Marine ecologists, PhD candidates and other conservation leaders amplified their views to the inquiry late last week.

Among them is wildlife ecologist Caitlin Weatherstone, who is confident the inquiry will have constructive outcomes for shark mitigation.

"I think this senate inquiry will bring a lot things to the surface and it will reveal a lot of the facets that were perhaps overlooked," Ms Weatherstone said.

Ms Weatherstone was compelled to put her "two cents in this debate" because "a lot of the time science is being ignored" when it comes to shark mitigation measures.

In her submission to the inquiry, Ms Weatherstone focused on the negative impacts of shark nets on marine environments and the need for implementing non-lethal strategies to manage shark safety.

She canvassed a series of alternative approaches that she said would lead to better protection for humans and marine life, such as additional funding for the drone shark surveillance program, Shark Watch NSW and community education about shark behaviour.

Southern Cross University marine ecologist, Jann Gilbert and Ballina Shire councillor, Keith Williams also made submissions to the inquiry.

As of the deadline on Friday, the Committee Secretariat spokesperson said the inquiry had collected and processed 10 submissions on its website.

She said other submissions are still being processed by the committee and will be uploaded to the inquiry website.


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