The six-month trial of shark nets on the notorious NSW north coast will be fast tracked after another surfer was lucky to survive an attack near Byron Bay.
The 36-year-old man escaped with three puncture wounds to his upper thigh when his surfboard bore the brunt of the attack off a beach between Suffolk Park and Broken Head around 7.30am local time yesterday.
The attack is the 13th in the area since January last year, and the third in the space of a month, prompting the Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair to announce he would introduce legislation in a bid to have the nets installed before Christmas. "This trial of traditional nets will ... help reduce the risk of further attacks," he said.
The move came as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce warned the frequency of shark attacks in the region would deter tourists.
"Mums and dads make a decision about where the kids swim and even if it's incredibly low risk, it still worries people and they make a decision with their wallet because of it," he told reporters in Brisbane.
However, local surfers, along with the Byron Bay Shire Council, oppose the trial, because of concerns about what it will do the region's marine life.
Aaron Hoffman was in the water during the latest attack and said he favoured a targeted shark cull rather than netting.
Another man, Geoffrey Knapp, who gave first aid to the victim yesterday morning said neither netting nor a cull should be an option.
"It's about awareness - it's not about culling sharks," he told ABC Radio.
It's not yet known what species of shark was involved in yesterday's attack, but a number of great whites have been detected along the coast in the past week.