TIME FOR ACTION: Ballina Shire mayor David Wright meeting with the DPI’s director of fisheries research Dr Bob Creese and senior research scientist Dr Paul Butcher.
TIME FOR ACTION: Ballina Shire mayor David Wright meeting with the DPI’s director of fisheries research Dr Bob Creese and senior research scientist Dr Paul Butcher. Mireille Merlet-Shawaap

Researchers 'can't handle great whites', call in CSIRO

THE size and scope of the region's great white shark crisis is beyond the expertise of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries' (DPI) emergency response team - so they've called in the CSIRO.

In Ballina this month on a fact-finding and tagging mission, DPI scientists admitted that great whites weren't their forte.

When it came to surgically inserting tags to sharks, their size and species did matter, according to a DPI spokeswoman.

"Although DPI shark researchers have extensive experience tagging bull, tiger, dusky, sandbar, grey nurse and wobbegong sharks, white sharks have historically been the specialty research focus of the CSIRO, with whom NSW DPI have a long history of collaboration," she said.

"The shark tagging program involves locating and tagging sharks with both externally mounted satellite tags and surgically inserted acoustic tags to monitor their movements.

"It should be noted that the tags register the natural movements of the sharks to determine the environments and biological factors affecting white shark abundance and distribution.

"In the interests of ongoing research collaboration and sharing of information potentially crucial to a better understanding of white shark movements in northern NSW waters, the CSIRO have been invited to join the NSW DPI researchers in this new white shark tagging project in the northern NSW coastal waters.

"This new research initiative is separate to the ongoing CSIRO white shark tagging program in NSW, which is part of the Australian Government National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub."

Scientists from the DPI, Western Australia Fisheries and the University of Technology in Sydney regularly assisted with components of the CSIRO program.

CSIRO research has historically not been focused on shark attack mitigation. Instead its white shark research was dedicated to marine diversity.

Prominent shark scientist Vic Peddemors will be in Ballina next week.

Previously Prof Peddemors has advocated enlisting the public to help collect data.


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