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Fed govt open to potential shark cull

AAP logoAAP 27/09/2016 Anna Hitchings

The federal government has signalled it would consider a shark cull on the NSW north coast after a teenage surfer was mauled by a great white.

It comes as the NSW government announces a new three-month trial of shark-spotting drones for the area, and additional drum lines off the coast.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg says he's open to proposals for a cull of great white sharks.

"I absolutely put human safety first and foremost in my mind," he told ABC TV, adding that the measures would need federal approval because sharks are a vulnerable species.

There have also been calls for nets to be installed along the NSW north coast but Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair says it would take years before installation.

"Even if we had the green light ... we could be years off," he told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.

The comments came after Mr Blair's visit to Ballina on Wednesday to discuss preventative measures with the North Coast community following Monday's shark attack.

Cooper Allen, 17, survived with a few stitches after he was bitten in the leg by a near-four-metre shark while surfing off Ballina's Lighthouse Beach.

Prompted by the attack, eight additional smart drum lines will be deployed along the north coast in addition to the three-month drone trial.

Smart drum lines, which are baited hooks attached to buoys, work by sending alerts once a shark is hooked.

This allows authorities to come and tag the animal.

"What we've got here is a suite of measures we haven't seen before in NSW," Mr Blair said.

The Baird government's next phase of drone trials will involve up to three flights a day on beaches over the north and south coast.

Lighthouse Beach was one of two sites where a shark barrier trial was called off over winter after the barriers failed to withstand rough conditions.

Five of the 11 recent attacks in northern NSW have occurred at Ballina beaches, including one involving the death of Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara last year.

Legislation prohibits great white sharks being culled in NSW.

Ballina Greens member Tamara Smith described shark culls and meshing as a "quick fix" and said they would not prevent attacks.

"Installing a shark net in our region would very likely lead to large numbers of dolphin deaths and to even get a net would involve a long legal process," Ms Smith said.

She has called for a feasibility study for shark spotting at Lighthouse Beach, a method she says ranked number one in South Africa for non-lethal shark mitigation strategies.

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