The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS MCEL­ROY ni­co­las.mcel­

SHARK nets will be re­moved from north­ern NSW beaches just as the ocean preda­tors be­gin to cruise into “town”, sci­en­tists and fish­er­men say.

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries said it would not ex­tend a six-month trial of the nets at five beaches. The trial ends June 13.

The nets were put in af­ter a spate of shark at­tacks over two-and-a-half years.

“The data from the trial will now be an­a­lysed by DPI shark sci­en­tists to assess the ef­fec­tive­ness of the nets,” DPI Min­is­ter Niall Blair said.

“We will also con­tinue to con­sult with the lo­cal com­mu­nity to gauge their views on the out­comes of the trial.”

Out­spo­ken shark net ad­vo­cate, Len­nox-Bal­lina board­rider pres­i­dent Don Munro, said an­other in­ci­dent would dev­as­tate busi­nesses still re­cov­er­ing from the fall­out of pre­vi­ous at­tacks.

“I’m try­ing to stay op­ti­mistic, but when some­one takes them out it’s hard to put them back in place,” Mr Munro said.

“My big­gest fear is the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion if an­other at­tack oc­curs.”

Six tar­get sharks were caught – two white, one bull, three tiger sharks – in the nets in the re­cent trial. Of the 244 non-tar­get an­i­mals caught in the nets, 117 were re­leased alive.

Bond Univer­sity’s Daryl McPhee said sharks moved north dur­ing au­tumn and win­ter months, but stressed they did not mi­grate.

Nets will be re­placed with ad­di­tional drone sur­veil­lance and drum lines de­spite Surf­ing Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Stark telling a re­cent Se­nate in­quiry into shark at­tacks that aerial sur­veil­lance was es­sen­tially use­less.

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