Premier rules out shark cull, despite own near attack
MIKE Baird has taken to Facebook to tell NSW no shark cull would be called for North Coast beaches despite a surge in attacks.
The NSW Premier acknowledged shark encounters had reached "extraordinary levels" but said there was no proof culling was an effective deterrent.
"When I hear some members of board riding clubs up there are calling for a shark cull, it makes me sit up and pay attention," he said.
"The surfers up there are fearless - only the bravest take on breaks like Lennox Head at 10-12 foot.
"Not only are they brave, these guys are keen environmentalists.
"They love the ocean, and they love the creatures of the ocean. And, if those guys are worried, then something must be happening."
The Premier said shark culls in Western Australia seemed to have had no effect on the frequency of attacks.
"So, animal rights issues aside, it isn't certain that shark culling even works," he said.
He added shark nets were not suitable for all beaches and there were doubts over their effectiveness on the North Coast, as well as environmental concerns.
"Although we are going to look into expanding the nets, it may not be as easy as rolling more out," he said.
Trials on new technologies like sonar buoys are underway but remain in their infancy, with tweaking needed for the devices to tell the difference between sharks and dolphins.
"In fact, to help speed that process up, we are having an international summit on sharks next month and we are seeking all ideas from the best minds to ensure we are doing all we can," Mr Baird said.
"In the immediate term, we are spending $250,000 ahead of spring and summer to increase surveillance and shark tagging to try and reduce the risk of further attacks.
"In short, I want you to know we are doing what we can to take measured and effective action to keep our beaches as safe as we can.
"But it will be done based on fact, not emotion."
The self-professed surfing aficionado said he had experienced his own near-miss with a shark at a beach near Crescent Head on the Mid North Coast.
"While I was lucky to escape, I should note that my best mate did the opposite of Mick Fanning's mate Julian Wilson," he said.
"When my mate saw the shark circling, he bolted to the beach!
"To his credit, this was the only blemish on an otherwise impeccable best-mate record." -APN NEWSDESK