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NSW shark attack sparks safety debate

AAP logoAAP 26/09/2016 Rebecca Chirichiello

A shark attack in Ballina has ignited a fierce debate about how best to keep beachgoers safe in NSW.

Teenager Cooper Allen showed off his battle scars on Tuesday, a day after he was bitten by a great white shark while surfing off the state's north coast.

The 17-year-old is recovering in Lismore Base Hospital after receiving stitches for the four deep bite marks on his upper right thigh.

Photos of the teen's wounds, obtained by Channel Seven, show the teenage victim in good spirits, giving the thumbs up from his hospital bed.

Politicians and interest groups are pressuring NSW Premier Mike Baird to change shark prevention measures, with former prime minister and keen surfer Tony Abbott calling for nets to be put up in regional NSW.

"I'm lucky to surf on Sydney beaches and beaches in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong since the 1940s (which) have been protected by mesh," he told 3AW.

"Now if it's good enough for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, for the life of me, I don't know why it's not good enough for the north coast of NSW."

Mr Abbott questioned why a commercial shark fishery had not yet been considered for the shark attack hot spot.

"If it's a choice between people and animal, I'm on the side of the people every time," he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has offered to work with the premier to extend her state's shark attack prevention measures, which feature drum lines, to NSW.

The Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association (APOLA) says there needs to be more surf lifeguard towers installed across NSW.

"A lot of money is being spent on government promoted initiatives including netting and drones but we believe there should be a focus on using proven infrastructure," APOLA secretary-treasurer John Andrews said.

Surf Life Saving NSW has warned against a knee-jerk reaction while Mr Baird says authorities are doing all they can to keep beachgoers safe, including the use of drone technology.

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.

Cooper recently spoke out against the trial, saying it wouldn't stop him from getting in the surf.

"We still go out there without the net, at our own choice. I don't think there is any need for it," he said.

All beaches in the Ballina area were closed for 24 hours and a 3.5m great white was spotted off Lighthouse Beach following Monday's attack.

Lennox Head beach remains closed on Tuesday after lifeguards spotted a shark in the area.

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

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