SHARK RALLY: The beach was awash with anti shark net signs as protesters sent a message to the crowds during the Quiksilver Pro yesterday.
SHARK RALLY: The beach was awash with anti shark net signs as protesters sent a message to the crowds during the Quiksilver Pro yesterday.

Shark net protesters take over Quiky Pro

ON a packed Coolangatta beach at the peak of town's biggest event of the year - the World Surf League Quiksilver Pro - protesters linked arms quite literally at a joint demonstration advocating for the removal of shark nets on Wednesday.

The groups from Northern NSW and Gold Coast stood side-by-side on Snapper Rocks beach during the tournament brandishing nine banners carrying messages such as "indiscriminate slaughter: new technology or ocean ecology” and "shark nets kill all marine life”.

Camila Stipanich
Camila Stipanich lent her support to a shark net protest in Coolangatta.

The groups contended that shark nets can "actually make a shark encounter more likely as they give a false sense of security.”

Alternatives such as drone spotting, the groups argue, are much more humane, safe and effective.

"Not only do drones provide live, real-time observations and warning systems, but they double as a life support system in being able to drop flotation devices out to people in distress,” said Dean Jefferys from the Migaloo 2 conservation group, who works in the Byron and Ballina region trying to keep any further shark net trials at bay.

"It's a no brainer really and I don't know why governments haven't implemented it. It's there, and it's cheap.

"Every year hundreds of animals are getting killed. I think that the days of the shark nets are definitely numbered.”

The beach was awash with anti shark net signs as protesters sent a message to the crowds during the Quiksilver Pro.
Advocacy groups say claims that shark nets work have more holes in them than, well, a shark net.

Holly Richmond from Kill the Shark Nets, a new Gold Coast awareness group, said the public hasn't been given all the facts.

"We're out here to educate people on what is truly happening on our beaches. The more that people look into shark nets the more that people will realise that they are not effective,” said Ms Richmond.

Lobbyists convened at Snapper Rocks to protest the use of shark nets.
Protesters such as Holly Richmond convened at Snapper Rocks to criticise the use of shark nets.

"A lot of by-catch is getting caught in the nets such as turtles and dolphins and they're dying yearly just so we can feel protected.

"We want to educate the public to put pressure on government to provide different alternatives to shark nets, because these nets don't work and are killing our marine life.

"We want alternatives that are safe for humans and safer for animals.”

Earlier this year, Ballina's deputy mayor, Keith Williams, called on the NSW Government to abandon the second North Coast shark net trial, describing the 98 per cent by-catch rate recorded in December 2017 as "intolerable".