THE Greens have called on the Baird government to hold a plebiscite to see if New South Wales residents support installing mesh shark nets that also kill dolphins, whales and dugong.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith said fear of attacks had bred the idea "a person advocating for safer ocean use is anti-environmental and a person advocating for the protection of our marine life is anti-human".
Ms Smith blamed politicians and media for drumming up "this ludicrous binary argument" when in fact it was not an either-or proposition.
"In my lifetime of surfing and swimming on the North Coast, up until a few years ago I had only ever heard of a couple of shark encounters on our beaches," she added.
"Guys 10 years my senior talked about the surfer at Tallows who lost his leg in the 1980s, but it was not something anyone I knew talked about or thought about.
"The situation now is unprecedented and shocking."
Large rallies are already being organised against NSW Premier Mike Baird's statement that community sentiment had shifted in favour of mesh shark nets.
"In Queensland, which the Opposition is glowingly putting forward as a model to emulate, people are screaming for the mesh nets to be removed and drum lines to be used because six juvenile humpback whales have been caught in the nets on the Gold Coast this year," Ms Smith said.
"Good one, Premier Palaszczuk! But hang on - Premier Palaszczuk also supports the world's largest coal mine that is right on the Barrier Reef.
"My community has always been divided on shark mesh nets, but I believe we have always been able to have a civil conversation about it.
"That is what we are calling on the government to do - conduct a plebiscite to find out what people would really like to see happen."
Shark Files Queensland figures reveal Queensland's mesh nets were responsible for killing 76 dolphin and 28 manta rays between 2009 and 2014, with 406 non-targeted species dying in total.
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