Have your say about plans for shark nets

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has invited North Coast residents to complete an online survey canvassing community views on a trial of shark nets in the area.

Deputy Director General DPI Fisheries Dr Geoff Allan said the survey would be available on the DPI website.

"Community consultation and the ongoing discussion we're having with the North Coast community about the measures available to us to reduce the risk of shark bites have been a feature the Shark Management Strategy since it began last year," he said.

"The Government understands this is an issue that generates strong feelings, and we're committed to finding solutions that reduce the risk for beachgoers while respecting community wishes in regard to environmental impacts.

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances we've witnessed in this area over the past 12 months, we need to prioritise the safety of our community. To do that most effectively it's important for us to understand community views on this matter, so I would encourage everyone to make those views known via the survey."

The six-month trial will use the same type of nets already in use from Newcastle to Wollongong under the NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program, which has been in operation since 1937.

The 150m long nets are 6m deep with 60cm mesh, and are typically placed about 500m offshore and parallel to the beach near surf-clubs or patrolled swimming areas.

Shark nets are not a barrier system and do not create an enclosed area to separate swimmers from sharks. They are designed to reduce the likelihood of shark interactions by catching large, potentially dangerous sharks aggregating near the netted beach.

The nets are fitted with 'whale alarms' and 'dolphin pingers' to deter marine mammals from the netted area.

The online survey is available on the DPI website at dpi.nsw.gov.au/sharks until 5pm, on November 6, 2016.

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