'We are the apex predator': protest calls for shark nets now
THE surf community has spoken and they want shark nets "now".
That was the message to the NSW Government from over 500 residents who today loudly rallied at Missingham Park, Ballina, calling for immediate shark netting from Evans to Brunswick Heads.
Community for Ocean Safety organised the protest which was supported by local surf life saving and board riding clubs, with the help of their children to drive the point home using placards.
Le-Ba Boardriders president Don Munro fired up the crowd when he opened the rally, receiving an applause when he said "we are the apex predator on the planet".
"Human life is more valuable than animal life and should be treated as such," Mr Munro said.
Mr Munro later told The Northern Star the group have called on the Government to announce exact dates and locations of the shark net trials, promised to commence before Christmas.
"(Board riders) are scared to go surfing, we've had 13 attacks, and over the last couple of years we've had two deaths," Mr Munro said.
"We've got a situation where we are being targeted by these sharks, they're not going away or they come and go, and we need some sort of protection.
"We should get precedence over animals.
"The nets have been proven to work for 70 years."
Ballina Shire councillor Ben Smith received crowd support as he called for nets from Evans to Brunswick Heads.
"We want a proven initiative, protection for our swimmers, surfers and tourists," Mr Smith said. "We want that installation immediately."
Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club nippers president Sam Miller said attacks were driving down life saver numbers and the community feared their lifestyle was "disappearing".
"Our numbers are dropping dramatically," Mrs Miller said.
"Not just our nippers, we're also finding it hard to get patrol members (to Ballina) finding it hard to get bronze medallion people there, and our training schedule has changed dramatically.
"The community really haven't had much say in what was going to happen and from today it was very evident a lot of people are passionate in regards to getting the nets.
"It's a big diverse area but really it's the people who use the ocean are the people that need to have their say."
Ms Miller said the Surf Life Saving as an organisation whole was "staying quiet" on the issue which is why the groups felt compelled to rally today.
"No one is speaking up for us," Mrs Miller said.