Daily reporter Kathy Sundstrom says shark nets' effectiveness outweighs the cost to marine life.
Daily reporter Kathy Sundstrom says shark nets' effectiveness outweighs the cost to marine life.

WATERCOOLER: Shark nets worth toll to stop human casualties

BALLINA needs shark nets, as does every other popular tourist beach in Australia that doesn't have them.

I'm tired of the emotion around shark nets.

Yes, dolphins, turtles and even whales can be innocent victims caught in the nets across our popular beaches.

And I'm sorry they get hurt, even killed.

But it doesn't change the fact shark nets have led to a dramatic reduction in shark attacks worldwide.

Take my former homeland, South Africa, and its history of shark attacks and shark nets.

Durban, in Kwazulu/Natal, experienced 21 shark attacks - seven fatal - between 1943 to 1951.

This led authorities to look to Australia, of all places, for ideas and adopted the shark-net program already in place at some of Sydney's beaches.

The results, in my opinion, spoke for themselves.

Attacks decreased on the beaches that were netted and continued at those that weren't until the nets were widespread across tourist locations.

To my knowledge, there has been one fatal shark attack at a netted beach in Kwazulu/Natal since the nets were introduced.

Then you take my hubby's home town, Fish Hoek, where I spent many a fantastic holiday never thinking about shark attacks growing up.

I used to swim a kilometre out many mornings without a worry.

That changed between 2006 and 2011 when there were three serious shark attacks, two fatal, at this pristine little beach.

Should all Australian tourist beaches have shark nets?

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Why the sharks started to attack then, no one knows.

Fish Hoek had no shark nets, but I understand has since introduced them and the results have been phenomenal.

Reports in one of South Africa's main news portal, Independent Online, said during the shark net trial from March 2013 to May 2014 shark spotters recorded 39 Great White sightings, but none entered the exclusion zone.

I don't know why shark nets work. I've swum out to the ones at Coolum and tried to dive under them, they're really not that wide or deep.

I don't know why they work, but the lack of shark attacks in areas where they have been introduced prove they do.

I love Lennox Head, near Ballina. We have been going there for Christmas holidays for eight years now.

The number of shark attacks around Lennox and in northern New South Wales saddens and worries me.

I think it should be a no-brainer that shark nets are introduced in the popular swimming areas patrolled by lifeguards.

And, yes, there will be some dolphins that die along the way.

But I still believe it will be worth it to save the huge emotional and financial toll of a shark attack.

Politicians and environmentalists can spend months debating the merits of shark nets.

There is no doubt though tourists swim more at peace on the Sunshine Coast because we have these protective measures in place.

Do you agree? Is the death of some other marine life in shark nets worth it if they prevent human casualties?

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