Shark net budget remains in plan

An attempt to reel in Dunedin's shark nets appears dead in the water, despite claims they offer nothing more than a placebo effect.

During Monday's 2011-12 pre-draft annual plan hearing, Cr Kate Wilson argued the council's shark net contract should be cancelled as soon as possible, saving up to $40,000 each year.

Her suggestion won support from some councillors, including Richard Thomson, who said the nets created "the most enormous placebo affect you could possibly create in water".

However, Cr Syd Brown opposed the move, saying a first cousin of his, and "the guy who sat next to me at school", had both been "taken" by sharks over the years.

"I have knowledge of what a shark attack means. I won't be supporting this motion."

Cr Neil Collins also supported the nets, saying - like the shark bell at St Clair - they gave reassurance to people, and nobody had been lost to a shark in Dunedin since the nets were installed.

"I'm going to vote for them to stay there until I'm no longer here."

The sets of 100m-long nets were positioned off St Kilda, St Clair and Brighton beaches each summer in the years following five attacks - three of them fatal - in the space of seven years in the 1960s and 1970s.

About 700 sharks have been killed in the nets since council records began in 1977.

However, Cr Paul Hudson said councillors could have "no idea" how many sharks had been deterred from swimming into the city's beaches by the nets, without being caught.

Cr Lee Vandervis countered, arguing nobody could know how many sharks were attracted to the beaches by the rotting bodies of other sharks caught in the nets.

Cr Wilson's recommendation was lost 6-7.

That meant the budget for the nets would remain in the council's draft annual plan when released for public consultation.


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