Fatal shark attack on NSW south coast
Search underway for a 60-year-old woman who was taken by a shark while swimming near Tathra beach on Thursday morning. Nine News.PT0M45S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35zz8 620 349 April 3, 2014
The woman missing after a presumed shark attack on the NSW South Coast was a member of a group that raised concerns two years ago about illegal shark fishing at Tathra Wharf.
Tathra Surf Life Saving Club's then-surf boat captain Sharon Clarke warned two years ago that shark fishing off the local wharf was attracting sharks to the area.
Tathra fatal shark attack
Flowers rest on the front verandah of the Tathra SLSC club rooms. Photo: Graham Tidy
Christine Armstrong, 63, from Tathra, was a member of that club.
In March 2012, Ms Clarke told the Bega District News she had seen a black balloon floating close to the beach with bait attached to lure in sharks.
Her words now appear tragically portentous, after a woman was attacked by a shark at about 8.20am on Thursday morning while she was swimming between Tathra Wharf and Tathra Beach with a local group.
There had been a long debate about shark fishing at the Tathra Wharf, with Ms Clarke stating in her 2012 interview she no longer swam in the area.
She said her regular group of swimmers were also beginning to get concerned about the number of sharks being lured to the area.
"There are some keen ones who go every morning no matter what, but I haven't swum myself this year after reports of shark fishing at Tathra Wharf," she said at the time.
"And there are plenty of others who are hesitant now, knowing it's going on. It also doesn't make a lifesaver's job easy either."
Sam Moskwa, a resident of Pambula, told Bega District News she confronted fishermen on the Tathra Wharf on February 23 this year after they pulled in a hammerhead shark.
“We were at the Wharf café about 10.30-11 o’clock when there was a commotion outside that someone had caught a hammerhead shark and was having trouble bringing it in,” she said.
“I saw the sign on the wharf that said shark fishing was against the law. I told him that and asked if he was going to throw it back but he said he was bringing it in and catching it was just an accident."
When Ms Moskwa said fishing for sharks brings them closer to where people swim “he called me everything under the sun”.
“I reported it to the café who said it was frequent and there was nothing they could do," she said.
In March 2012, Bega Valley Shire Council senior ranger Peter Miles said he had received calls about shark fishing and that further inquiries were being made. Mr Miles said on Thursday he had been advised not to comment on anything relating to the shark attack.
At 6.30pm on Thursday there was still no word on what kind of shark was responsible for the woman's death.
Southern Cross University shark expert Daniel Bucher said bronze whaler sharks were commonly sighted on the south coast although they were usually responsible for single bite attacks.
"Bronze whalers do come in close to the shore in calmer water conditions looking for fish, particularly behind the breaking line of the surf," he said.
Mr Bucher said it would extremely uncommon for a great white shark to come so close to shore.