News State NSW News No protection in sight as shark sightings surge

No protection in sight as shark sightings surge

The number of sharks off Australia's shores has increased, experts say. Photo: Getty
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Dave Pearson still surfs the same NSW beach where a bull shark nearly tore his arm off six years ago but a recent spike in shark sightings has led him to turn to technology for peace of mind.

Mr Pearson has been surfing regularly since the attack in 2011 but after seeing three sharks in as many days last year at his regular mid north coast beach of Crowdy Head he couldn’t paddle out.

So he adopted technology which he says provides some comfort.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence,” Mr Pearson said of the Shark Shield he now uses.

The device – which emits an electric charge designed to repel sharks – is among a slather of technology being considered by a Senate inquiry into shark attack prevention methods.

The federal environment committee is due to report by the end of June.
The NSW government has confirmed its six-month trial of nets on the far north coast will wrap up mid-June.

The nets have killed 127 non-target animals and caught six sharks since being installed at five beaches.

SMART Drumlines caught 29 sharks and killed only one animal, NSW primary industries minister Niall Blair said in a statement on Tuesday night.

More SMART drumlines, which work by baiting lines to catch sharks rather than using a net, will be rolled out during the whale migration season, Mr Blair said.

The netting trial has been highly controversial since its inception, with many calling it a culling method which needlessly killed other animals.

“It’s high time the NSW government realised that culls through shark nets and drum lines don’t make our beaches safer,” the Human Society International Australia said this week.

Mr Pearson is also opposed to culling sharks but in his area, which is unprotected by nets or drumlines, he’s seeing sharks more often than he ever.

The migratory nature of sharks makes it hard to estimate population numbers but several attacks have led to calls for the NSW government to do more.

Mr Pearson, who now runs a survivors support club, says it’s not simply an argument about statistics because even just one attack has far-reaching impacts.

“There were 20 people affected by my shark attack and some of them don’t go in the water anymore,” he said. “There is a human side to it.”