Netted facilities in Lake Macquarie will be prioritised as a component of an aquatic strategy currently being developed, following the recent shark attack near Morisset.
The notice of motion raised by Lake Macquarie councillor Jason Pauling asked council to acknowledge the apparent increased awareness of shark activity and residents' concerns about defined swimming areas and the absence of netting.
It comes after marine scientist Rick Burbury was bitten on the arm, most likely by a bull shark, while swimming off Yarrawonga Park on January 23.
The attack prompted Toronto swimmers to call on council to provide better protection in the lake.
Cr Pauling also requested shark netting be considered in the preparation of the next council draft budget and updated long term financial plan.
However this element was removed through an amendment from Cr Brian Adamthwaite, who pointed out the aquatic strategy was still in development.
"I think the process we're involved in needs to clearly outline what our intentions would be rather than a bit of cart before the horse situation," Cr Adamthwaite said.
While he eventually supported the amendment, saying anything that advanced netting in the lake was a positive, Cr Pauling said acquiring nets at Belmont Baths was a long process and he didn't want to see that repeated.
"When we go back to Belmont Baths, councillors will recall the initial 18 months, two years to build it then the two years to analyse how successful we were," Cr Pauling said.
"The west side of the lake had to wait at least four years before it would get a look in for netted baths despite residents agitating regularly for protection.
"During the Belmont Baths discussion [people said there] hasn't been an attack for a long time, never going to happen, well it has happened."
While Cr Pauling acknowledged the chance of a shark attack was low, he said this motion wasn't about safety, but rather "awareness and fear".
"What is in dispute is the level of fear and comfort our residents have in swimming in the lake," he said.
"People are scared to swim.
"You could not get me in Toronto Baths at the moment, because you can't see it coming.
"Even if it's not coming, the terror that it might be coming and you can't see it coming is almost paralysing.
"This is about taking fear away so they can enjoy the fantastic lake that we've got."
But fellow west ward councillor Wendy Harrison said she wasn't 100 per cent sold on the idea of netting in the lake.
"It's well known I didn't support the netting of baths at Belmont," she said.
"We did have a shark attack earlier this year. It's the first one in 75 years.
"It's very unfortunate for the people who are attacked, but the incidence is pretty low.
"In terms of fear, we have a role of education - by doing this are we just increasing that level of fear?
"Don't we have a role to educate our residents?
"We did put in the baths at Belmont - it's a wonderful facility, no two ways about it.
"But the costing has turned out to be considerably more than was anticipated.
"Usage may be high on hot days, but I think its probably debatable on other times.
"I'm just not sure that going ahead at this stage without further information is the correct way to go, and I'm sure I'm going to lose a lot of support in west ward for that.
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