Environmental conservation group Sea Shepherd has denied claims that its members de-baited anti-shark drum lines off the Ballina coast in New South Wales.
Sea Shepherd shark campaign coordinator Natalie Banks said in a statement that its crew had been “falsely accused”.
“To falsely accuse our crew of de-baiting the smart drum line hooks is not only an intimidation technique, but is almost satirical when you consider that the crew on board our [inflatable boat] today consisted of a respected marine scientist, a shark bite survivor and a school teacher,” Ms Banks said.
Drum lines are aquatic traps used to lure and catch sharks with baited hooks deployed near popular beaches were sharks are known to have been spotted.
The drum lines at Ballina are not designed to kill sharks, rather just to have it tagged and relocated by authorities.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries deployed the lines earlier in December as part of a trial of its shark management strategy, according to the Huffington Post.
A NSW police statement confirmed reports of drum lines being tampered with, but that no allegations of who was responsible had been made.
Two people have died at Ballina’s beaches from shark attacks in 2015.
Bodyboarder Matt Lee perished at Lighthouse Beach in July, while Tadashi Nakakara died at Shelley Beach in February.
Between February and August there were 11 shark attacks along a 20 km line of beach in northern NSW.