When sharks attack: how councils try and contain the fear

Shark attacks scare the community and leave local councils and state governments with difficult policy decisions. The Mandarin hits the beaches for answers.

Sharks can inspire fear, hysteria or deep respect, and it is the local councils who sit at the front line when communities suffer the tragedy of death from a shark bite.

Popular East Coast tourism town Byron Bay had its first shark fatality in more than 20 years last month. Mayor Simon Richardson says his key role in the immediate aftermath was to ensure his response was calm amid the national media frenzy.

“The mainstream media initially started off with the first question about concern,” Richardson told The Mandarin. But it didn’t take long for the angle to turn political: “Do I think it will affect tourism? Do I support killing the shark or hunting the shark or putting anything in place whether that be nets or drum-lines? Pretty much across the board, they were asking those same questions.”

Richardson says there is no time for community consultation when such an unexpected tragedy happens, so it’s important to always be attuned to community expectations. His response to media was: “On one hand it’s a national park, and the bottom line is our community respects the diversity of the ocean. We have that relationship with it, we accept that sometimes tragedies happen and we honour sharks as much as we honour whales and dolphins.”

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  • Glen James

    What the mayor hasn’t said is that I emailed him 2 weeks before the Paul Wilcox’s fatal shark attack, warning them that they were due for a fatal shark attack. Warning them that the Marine Park they are in is THE hottest spot for shark attack in Australia. That email is here in my sent box still.

    Marine Parks were put in place by corrupt pollies around 2000′. They were encouraged to by Pew and other .orgs who are owned by Texaco as a way to claim resources territory for the future. In Newcastle I was attacked in an Aquatic Reserve WITHIN a Marine Park! 200km overlap!! True!! We are due for another attack here anytime. Enjoy your Marine Park Byron Bay.

  • Glen James

    Obeid and fisheries took millions from Pew and US oil money around 2000′ to create these lethal Marine Parks. They tricked us all using human empathy as the seller. RIP Paul Wilcox. Christine Armstrong. Zac Young. All dead in Marine Parks in 294 days. 2014′ Year Of The Shark. Well done fisheries and Eddie.

    Oh and they are searching for gas already around our ‘Marine Park’ here…lol