Shark nets could be removed under new plan
SHARK nets could be pulled from beaches in the state's north this spring and summer, with smart drumlines used to protect beachgoers.
New data reveals smart drumlines snared eight times more "target sharks" than nets between November and May in a trial at five north coast beaches.
The nets caught just two bull sharks, one of which died, among 145 animals.
Rays, turtles and dolphins were among "non-target" animals caught in the nets, with 57 animals dying.
In contrast, the smart drum lines trialled alongside the nets snared just 32 animals but caught 16 "target" sharks - including nine white sharks and four tiger sharks.
Only one "non-target" animal, a marlin, died.
The trial ran at Lennox Head's Seven Mile Beach, Evans Head's Main Beach and Ballina's Sharpes, Shelly and Lighthouse beaches.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said results supported the argument that nets should be pulled from the beaches and the government is considering the move.
"(The data) clearly shows (smart drumlines) are hitting the target and … for the first time puts up an alternative against the nets for the north coast," he said.
"It clearly shows the drumline technology has worked. The results speak well of the future of smart drumlines and we will continue to have that conversation about what role nets do play."
Mr Blair ruled out removing "effective" nets that have been in place since the 1930s at beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle.
"We certainly don't have any intention at this stage to remove our nets out of waters between Wollongong and Newcastle because they have been effective and remain to be," he said.
The government surveyed north coast residents and others about shark mitigation and found nets are most popular among surfers from Ballina Shire and Evans Heads.
Up to 75 per cent of Ballina Shire and Evans Head residents supported smart drumlines and up to 34 per cent support shark nets.
Mr Blair will meet residents today to discuss the trial and survey results.