A shark trapped in fishing nets was released by Kelli Anderson, a keen environmentalist and diver.

Photo EcoDivers
A shark trapped in fishing nets was released by Kelli Anderson, a keen environmentalist and diver. Photo EcoDivers Contributed

OPINION: Safety nets entangled in the shark debate

WITH every shark attack that makes headlines on the North Coast, it seems more people are "jumping the net" in support of more drastic measures to protect beach-goers.

We already have shark apps, listening stations, drones, aerial surveillance and personal shark shields. Now the State Government has announced a six-month trial of the sort of nets found off beaches across Queensland.

I get it; the promise of freedom from fear when you enter the ocean is alluring, and the economic dollars that security would bring back to coastal towns sweetens the deal. But how do we weigh that against the potential deaths of hundreds or thousands of marine animals due to entanglement?

There is no denying the human cost of shark attacks is high. Since February last year there have been four attacks off one stretch of sand in Ballina alone, one fatal.

But everyone who swims or paddles out into the ocean knows the risks, just as we know the risks when we get behind the wheel of a car. And until we find a 100% effective shark-deterrent, the risk will always be there, nets or no.

Byron Bay "shark girl" Madison Stewart recently suggested the best way for people to avoid attacks was to stay out of the water during this abnormal influx of apex predators.

I say make your own decision, but please make it educated.



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