Govt denies secret plan to shorten shark netting season
THE State Government was considering the shark netting season on NSW beaches at the same time campaigners were pushing for the protections to be installed on the North Coast.
A proposal of cutting the season by a month was raised in a tender document for contractors to oversee the netting program.
"The season is currently eight months long and begins on September 1 each year, ending on April 30 the following year," it stated.
"Should, as a result of the review of the joint management agreement, the length of the season be shortened to seven months, this change will be automatically incorporated into the contract."
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair would not give his personal opinion about whether the netting program should be extended to North Coast beaches, including Ballina's Shelly Beach where 41-year-old surfer Tadashi Nakahara was mauled to death in February.
A 32-year-old body boarder, Mathew Lee, was critically injured in an attack at Lighthouse Beach near Ballina earlier this month.
Another surfer's hand was shredded in a great white shark attack at Pippi Beach in Yamba just two days earlier.
A spokesman from Mr Blair's office denied the eight-month shark netting season would be shortened on the 51 beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle where nets are currently in place.
"The NSW Government will not reduce shark netting protections on our beaches... (and) is continually looking for ways to strengthen and improve shark protections on our beaches," he said.
A State Government-funded trial of shark-detecting sonar technology is currently under way.
If successful, it will be used to complement the current netting program.
There have been 10 unprovoked shark attacks in NSW in 2015.