Govt sinks jaws into probing 'unprecedented' shark numbers

EXPERTS from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will investigate the region's unusually high number of recent shark attacks, sightings and encounters, according to Ballina mayor David Wright.

Two shark and fisheries experts are expected to arrive in the area on Monday, with several more to follow during the week as the investigation gets underway.

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The announcement comes after Ballina Shire Council and the mayor made an urgent appeal for the department's help with the shark issue.

"They're bringing a boat up, they're going to tag, they're going up in the helicopter, and they're going to talk to everyone they can," Cr Wright said.

The team, he said, would include "everybody who has something to do with sharks" and leading DPI shark expertDr Vic Pedemors.

Cr Wright said the DPI now acknowledged the current situation was "totally unprecedented" and the team would "be here until they work out what's going on".

"They understand the seriousness of it now," he said.

"They mightn't be able to get rid of the sharks, but we need to know why they're here, how many there are, and if they're the same ones staying here or are they changing as they move up the coast."

Cr Wright said two factors already known to influence shark numbers were the unseasonably warm water and baitfish schools roaming much closer to shore than usual.

The DPI would look at these and other factors as well as get first-hand evidence of the sharks and, if possible, tagging them.

Cr Wright said they would also be keeping the community informed about their progress and hold community meetings if needed.



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