BYRON BAY (AUSTRALIA)- Surfers on Australia’s New South Wales north coast have overwhelmingly and somehow unexpectedly voted for a partial cull of sharks. This vote was made last night following an unprecedented number of attacks and sightings along the world-famous coastline.

Surfer Tadashi Nakahara was mauled to death in February and 11 others have been attacked, including body boarder Matt Lee and surfer Craig Ison who both remain in hospital with serious injuries. Only last Tuesday afternoon, a surfer was knocked off his board by a shark at Suffolk Park, just south of Byron Bay.

Ballina Council has been paying for a helicopter to patrol beaches every weekend. It has identified seven great white sharks, ranging from three to five metres, regularly stalking the coastline.The helicopter has spotted sharks about 20 metres away from surfers at Bolders Beach five times in the past two weeks.

Because of the shark attacks people, even experienced surfers that have been surfing the area for 40 years, stay out of the water. According to locals some businesses were about to fold because visitors were too scared to come to the area for beach holidays.

“I’ve been in Ballina or Byron Bay all my life and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ballina shire mayor David Wright to the Sydney Morning Herald. “If you’ve seen the Mick Fanning footage, that’s happened 10 or 11 times in this area this year.”

Wright said he didn’t support a cull but if nothing is done between now and a shark summit in October, some businesses will go under. Fearing that locals will “take matters into their own hands” and start killing sharks, Cr Wright wrote to the Department of Primary Industries on Tuesday to demand researchers be dispatched to the area immediately to investigate why there are so many sharks and what can be done to combat it.

Le-Ba Boardriders Club president Don Munro, who organised the meeting for boardriders from Byron, Ballina and Evans Head shires, said about 95 per cent of the 200 people present voted in support of “controlled management or culling”.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mick Fanning attacked at surfcompetition J-Bay Open: