Shark protection ramps up after fatal mauling
SMART drum lines could soon be set along some parts of the unprotected Tweed coast following the fatal mauling of a Gold Coast surfer by a large great white shark.
Tweed councillor Reece Byrnes told the Bulletin he was awarethe NSW Government was preparing to roll out drum lines at some shire beaches, alongside two additional shark-spotting drones.
Cr Byrnes said Tweed Shire Council would also chip in with surf lifesaving clubs to buy two more drones, bringing the total number of the craft in use across the Tweed to six.
He said the council expected to hear more about the location of the drum lines soon from the NSW Department of the Primary Industries.
"It comes on the back of the tragic shark attack (involving Tugun surfer Rob Pedretti). A lot of the community contacted me, particularly members of the surf clubs and they were pretty upset about the lack of shark mitigation," he said.
"The (NSW) State Government has come onboard a bit, but not enough. There's two drones and a smart drum line due to come from them. We still don't know where (the drum line) will be."
Tweed beaches are not protected by shark nets or drum lines, SMART or otherwise, while the Gold Coast has had nets and drum lines in place along its beaches since the 1960s.
Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time (SMART) drum lines are designed to be non-lethal and to send an alert when a shark has been snagged. The predators are then tagged, released and tracked.
Mr Pedretti, 60, was fatally mauled by a great white shark at Salt Beach near Kingscliff in NSW on June 7.
Across the border in Queensland, the Gold Coast has not recorded a fatal shark attack on its surf beaches since Peter Gerard Spronk was mauled off Surfers Paradise on November 23, 1958.
Cr Byrnes said the Tweed community was anxious and some were afraid to enter the water after Mr Pedretti was killed.
"People were certainly scared. People were very wary in that first couple of weeks about getting back there. It was quiet on the beaches," he said.
He believed there was no real appetite in environmentally-conscious Tweed to install shark nets, which could also snare migrating whales and other marine animals.
Cr Byrnes said SMART drum lines and eye-in-the-sky drones were the best way to protect Tweed beachgoers and the shire's tourism reputation.
"There was a feeling in the community (that) we certainly were snubbed," he said.
"The Gold Coast has nets - we don't want nets - and to the south of us Ballina got the rolled gold. They've got drones, drum lines, everything.
"We're saying we've got people on the beach, we're a coastal shire, our people deserve to be protected like someone in the north and the south."
The council was waiting to learn where the NSW Government would locate its two drones.
Originally published as Shark protection ramps up after fatal mauling