Call For Action On Sharks

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It’s the subject we are all talking about: what to do about the potentially life threatening Great White Sharks that are hanging out just off our beaches and prowling our favourite surf breaks? They have a nasty track record, having recently taken a life here and very nearly taken others. But they are a legally protected threatened species that has been calling the ocean ‘home’ since before the dinosaurs.

But the mood of a meeting of around 200 surfers, residents and local businesses held at Lennox Head on monday night was clear, with overwhelming (over 90% in a show of hands) support for a cull of some kind. While the exact details or definition of ‘cull’ was not discussed, it was made apparent that members of the local surfing fraternity are frustrated about the ‘lack of action’ by the State Government on the issue, and at what they perceive is a ‘double standard’ around the legal protection of this species.

‘Call it what you like,’ said Brady Alexson. ‘Call it a cull, call it a management plan. Unprecedented numbers of sharks call for unprecedented measures.’

And from another member of the crowd, ‘If a dog did this to a person it would be dead by now.’

And another, ‘I value a mate’s life more than I do a shark’s.’

And, ‘It’s an insult to the family of the victims that we can’t get out there and kill these sharks.’

The meeting, organised by President of the Le-Ba Boardriders Surf Club Don Munro, with help from members of the club, Wayne Webster and Nick Mercer, attracted surfers from as far south as Evans Head, up to Byron Bay. Speakers included Mayor David Wright, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, Nick Mercer and Evans Head ex-fisherman Brady Alexson, and there was lively input from the crowd.

According to Mayor Wright there are 7 identified sharks frequenting our far north coast waters at the moment, with regular sightings from the air, and just as many up-close-and-personal encounters in the water. These numbers are unprecedented, and their presence has created a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity, discussion, meetings, advisory sessions and the development of a new ‘Shark Protocol’. The Mayor says it has been the ‘busiest time of his life’ with constant demand from media and members of the public for his time.

‘I did 200 interviews in the last month,’ he said. ‘I’m worried. We’re all worried. I want to get people back into the surf and protect the name of the Ballina Shire. I want people to keep coming here and I want to make sure we are all safe. But the fact is that there is no simple answer. We could go out and kill these 7 sharks and there could be another 7 there next week.’

While the Mayor ruled out nets, because of their indiscriminate destruction of other species like turtles and dolphins, he said, he was open to anything that might help resolve the problem. Discussion revolved around continued aerial patrols (which are very expensive), the use of drones (which cannot operate when it is even slightly windy), tagging (also expensive), DNA testing (long-term and possibly inconclusive) sonar wave deterrents such as the Clever Buoy, and dangling a shark’s carcass in the water (something they do in Polynesia, which is effective against Great Whites but not Tiger Sharks).

However in the end it was agreed that the first step is to unite and work together, with the formation of a mailing list and Facebook page. Lobbying of MPs and large corporations was discussed, as was the possibility of crowd funding.

In the meantime Council will host a local advisory group meeting in late September, and then send representatives to a larger Shark Summit in Sydney in October.

We will keep you posted. Like the Lennox Wave Facebook page for updates and information.

Pictured below: organisers Nick Mercer, Don Munro and Wayne Webster
Mick,-Don,-Wayne

 

 

 

25 Responses

  1. kirsty

    How can you call for a cull and call yourself a surfer! the reason you started to surf was for a deep love of the ocean even mick fanning stated this after he was attacked! think before you act, you could be doing more damage than just killing some sharks consider the fact we as humans have killed most of this species off already! where does it stop today one tomorrow all of them!

    Reply
    • Stuart mcpherson

      If Mick Fanning was “attacked” and “saved from the jaws of death” then where are the teeth marks? Was a scarey experience but he was not attacked.

      Reply
      • jam

        You’re missing the point entirely Stuart. TI you are pretty useless all around. No one is saying to stop enjoying life. Keep on the tinnies mate, and you’ll have all the enjoyment you deserve.

        The ocean is a shark’s rightful home and has been for millions of years. We have no right as humans and land dwellers to be killing sharks because it may or may not make it safer for us to go in the ocean. If you want to swim, go find a swimming pool. If you want to surf, wait until whale season is over. This world isn’t your killing grounds. Have some respect for nature. We’re all lucky to be living where we are and we should all learn to appreciate it a bit more.

        Reply
  2. Susannah

    It’s not that I do value human life it’s simply that I can see perspective. 200 surfers / local residents should not be enough to change the law of protection on shark species. To insist on a cull will have a wider impact on the marine eco system that could affect more than just a few people. Any loss of life is regrettable but shark attacks should not be likened to dog attacks. Humans and dogs inhabit the same environment; land. Sharks inhabit the oceans yet humans choose to enter the ocean not out of necessity but for their own personal enjoyment, therefore it is at their own risk. Surfers do no need to be in the water, killing sharks so a few people can have a bit of fun is preposterous. Local businesses may be temporarily affected but look to areas such as J-bay where sharks are frequently sighted and you will see the impact of such sightings is negligible. Employ spotters, warn people of the dangers but don’t kill animals out of fear or worse, revenge.

    Reply
    • TI

      So your saying humans shouldn’t do something they enjoy!!!!!!! You must have such a glowing outlook on life. Rule # If you enjoy something stop doing it. F me where would human kind be with enjoyment??????? Get a life…..

      Reply
  3. Jodie

    absolutely agree Susanna. 200 local residents have a very small voice on the northcoast. Most of us (the 90% who did not attend the ‘meeting’) would vote for a ‘no cull’.

    Reply
    • TI

      200 residents at a meeting and 99.9 percent wanting aggressive management of white sharks. would be a very conclusive opinion poll for any marketing company to use as evidence for public feeling of any issue in the area? The crowed covered a large cross section of the community young, old, male and female. If a targeted removal of whites is not started the situation will deepen and you may end up with more than targeted removal. As far as the balance of things go, i know changed that long ago.
      I actually find the term GREAT WHITE’S totally ambiguous.

      Reply
  4. Scientist

    Unfortunately, these folk do not realise that no culling program on sharks is sufficient to lower attack rates. There are other factors at play here. Scientifically, there is no evidence to support their fears or actions. Not only this, but virtually all victims don’t blame the shark or want culling.

    Reply
  5. luke

    As a surfer it is worrying to get in the water at the moment , but im sure there is ample technology and other means out there other than a cull. The guy who mentions if a dog attacks someone just shows how little people understand about this issue. Sharks are not at all like dogs , dogs live as pack animals and in our society are influeneced by there owners. A shark is a wild animal and yes we are in there domain. A truly contentious issue at the moment that deserves more discusiion.

    Reply
  6. Jeff ling

    Fuck that!!! It’s not “our surf” It’s… THEIR home! We all take a risk every time we step in the water. Shoot humans not sharks.

    Reply
  7. Paul

    So if a hiker runs into a bear in the mountains and gets killed, do we destroy the bears? Of course not. It’s the same thing, you enter another creature’s environment at your own risk.

    Reply
      • Paul

        my comment was made to remind you of the big pictureMATE, and perhaps get you to look outside your tiny part of the world. Sharks have been a problem in your area for years. Look at the stats for Byron in the 70’s (when I used to surf there). The call for a cull is being driven by business operators in your area, who are more concerned about tourist numbers and their bottom line. While I empathise with you as a surfer, you only have to look at the number of sharks pulled out of the nets off the Gold Coast to see this is not a new occurrence. The biggest change is the number of tourists, learner surfers and people in the water.

        Reply
        • TI

          Mate your so far off the mark with what your saying. The only thing your correct about, is the increased number of white sharks they are pulling from nets on the Gold Coast. I’m way more concerned about the bycatch of other marine life in the nets. I for one would love to see nets removed up and down the coast and target problem sharks instead. Using data collected from a tagging program.

          Reply
  8. Richard

    Stay out of the water for the time being until they move on!!!!!!! The problem is there are more PEOPLE in Lennox Head now days NOT the other way around! Talk to “old” locals who have photos from 50+ years ago showing sharks being caught all of the time at Lennox. Get your facts right before you blame the shark for being in YOUR territory, YOU are in theirs and they were here first!

    Reply
  9. Olive

    Olive Andrews, Marine Scientist: The outcome of this meeting is deeply concerning. A dog is not an internationally endangered and protected species. You can’t compare. If we’re going to cull any species in this conversation it might be humans. Consider the many impacts we as humans have on the marine environment that have irreparably changed the sharks habitat and prey availability, thus changing their behaviour. It’s their lounge room you’re in when you surf. It’s the shark’s home, not yours. Respect it; or get out of the water.

    Reply
    • TI

      Dear Oliver Andrews Marine Scientist. Firstly White Sharks are not listed internationall as ENDANGERED they are listed as Vulnerable????? For somebody with years of uni behind them i’m shocked that you are so uneducated about the status of white’s. However I totally agree with u about a cull of humans. We should start with the humans who have degrees behind their names. They just repeat what they were told 20 years ago.

      Reply
  10. sam

    You guys up there have lost it. Weve been dealing with sharks in south oz since surfing started. Its just part of being in the ocean.

    Reply
  11. tom

    ti your sarcasm knows no bounds perhaps we should send you out in a dingy to deter the beasts of the deep with your one liners??!just how many sharks do we need to kill to make the ocean safer for you?maybe we should start slaughtering whales again since they are following them ?every one is entitled to an opinion mate even you sunshine!

    Reply
    • TI

      Yeah mate I’m up for that. Ive lived here for about 30 years. I personally knew one person who was killed and 2 whom are in hospital. So were pretty keen to do something to save mates. As for them following whales up the 2 fatal attacks were no where near whale season. I’m glad you have enjoyed my sarcasm. Hope you got a laugh mate.

      Reply

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