Activists claim a humpback and its calf were spotted off the north coast this week, for what is an early start to the migration season.
Activists claim a humpback and its calf were spotted off the north coast this week, for what is an early start to the migration season.

VIDEO: 'Relief' as nets pulled up just before whales sighted

THE NSW Government has avoided a certain public relations disaster by ending its shark net trial just days before the first whales of the migration were spotted off the NSW North Coast.

The claim was made by prominent anti-shark net activist Dean Jefferys, Skipper of Migaloo2, and the protester who dressed as a hammerhead shark to cast a net over former Premier Mike Baird during a Ballina protest.

Mr Jefferys joins Sea Shepherd and the Greens in their support of the May 29 announcement nets would be pulled up earlier than the planned date of June 13. 

Dean Jefferys on Migaloo2 this week.
Dean Jefferys on Migaloo2 this week.

Within its six month trial the nets caught or killed 244 marine creatures including dolphins, rays and endangered turtles.

Mr Jefferys posted photographs of two whales as they made their way from Lennox Head to the Ballina bar, on Thursday, May 31, concerned the animals would have been caught.

"I was very relieved the nets weren't up and the NSW Government has taken seriously, the issue of entanglement," Mr Jefferys said.

The Migaloo2 vessel.
The Migaloo2 vessel.

"Mother and baby were just off the lighthouse. If the nets were still up I was concerned they could have been caught in them, as they have done in Queensland.

"If images of a whale drowning in the nets went public, it would have been hard to justify them going back in."

Whales will pass through the region in large numbers as part of their annual migration from the Antarctic to areas around the Great Barrier Reef, including Harvey Bay to Cape York.

Humpback whale in the water at Point Danger, Northern NSW, during the annual migration in 2016.
Humpback whale in the water at Point Danger, Northern NSW, during the annual migration in 2016. Scott Powick

With a gestation period of 12-months, humpbacks calf along the way or once they arrive to their destination, where they to fatten up their calves, breed and return around August.

The NSW arm of international group APEX Harmony warned just days ago migrating humpback whales were passing the Ballina-Byron region.

"We want visitors and locals to see these animals swimming free, not fighting for their life wrapped in a shark net," APEX coordinator Allyson Jennings said.


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