Man bitten by shark off NSW north coast
The six-month trial of shark nets on the notorious NSW north coast will be fast tracked after another surfer was lucky to survive an attack near Byron Bay.
The 36-year-old man escaped with three puncture wounds to his upper thigh when his surfboard bore the brunt of the attack off a beach between Suffolk Park and Broken Head around 7.30am on Monday when the shark attacked.
The attack is the 13th in the area since January last year, and the third in the space of a month, prompting the Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair to announce he would introduce legislation in a bid to have the nets installed before Christmas.
“No one measure can stop shark attacks,” Mr Blair said.
“But this trial of traditional nets will … help reduce the risk of further attacks.”
The announcement came after NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley attacked the government for not already implementing the same type of nets that protect Sydney’s beaches.
“You just have to put human life first but Mr Baird’s dithering has led to yet another shark attack off the waters in northern NSW,” he said.
The move came as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce warned the frequency of shark attacks in the region would deter tourists.
“Mums and dads make a decision about where the kids swim and even if it’s incredibly low risk, it still worries people and they make a decision with their wallet because of it,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
However, local surfers, along with the Byron Bay Shire Council, oppose the trial, because of concerns about what it will do the region’s marine life.
Hundreds gathered on the NSW north coast on Sunday to protest their implementation, while others even spoke out after the attack on Monday morning.
Aaron Hoffman was in the water during the latest attack and said he favoured a targeted shark cull rather than netting.
“I’d be more in favour of a sustainable, targeted cull if that was proven to be as good.”
Another man, Geoffrey Knapp, who gave first aid to the victim on Monday morning said neither netting or a cull should be an option.
“It’s about awareness – it’s not about culling sharks,” he told ABC Radio.
The victim made his way to to the emergency department of Byron Central Hospital with the help of a friend, with witnesses saying he was able to walk into the emergency ward and has since been discharged.
It’s not yet known what species of shark was involved, but a number of great whites have been detected along the coast in the past week chasing schools of fish and dolphins.
All beaches across Byron Bay have been closed for at least 24 hours.