Another shark attack on the NSW north coast today has left locals scratching their heads over a solution.
Ballina Shire Council will hold a community meeting today after a 52-year-old surfer was bitten by a shark at Main Beach in Evans Head. It follows a string of shark sightings and two attacks in the area this year.
Craig Ison, from Lennox Head, fought off the shark by punching it when it bit him on the leg and arm. The man is currently in a serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery at Lismore Base Hospital.
There have been numerous shark sightings on the NSW north coast this year, including the fatal mauling of Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara at Shelly Beach in February and an attack on local bodyboarder Matt Lee near north wall at East Ballina. Today’s incident is the fourth attack in northern NSW this month.
Meanwhile Queensland surfer Mick Fanning made international headlines this month when he punched a shark in the back and managed to escape unharmed during his final heat at the J-Bay in South Africa.
With shark attacks and sightings becoming a more regular occurrence, shark culling groups have been using this as an opportunity to push forward the idea of shark culling.
But animal activists say people need to make up their minds on where they stand with sharks.
“One week we’re saving sharks, the next week we’re killing them off,” animal rights supporter Aime Joseph, from Sydney’s west told The Newsroom.
“People are too easily influenced based on media trends surrounding the issue, and most times don’t actually have a passionate stance on the issue.
“As a general rule people don’t give sharks a second thought, not until they attack that is, but we are the ones intruding into their home. Then we justify killing them off when they become defensive of their own territory.”
Ballina Council has held three previous meetings on sharks, with input from emergency services workers, surf life savers, academics and other stakeholders. Increased air patrols and sonar equipment have been put forward as netting is impractical at the long stretch of coastline. –Reported by Ben Vilnis and Ashleigh Stevenson
Top photo from Kyle Taylør’s Flickr Photostream.