Sydney - A champion junior surfer was in an induced coma Wednesday after being mauled by a shark off Australia's east coast, prompting calls for the government to do more to protect beachgoers.
The Ballina region where the 20-year-old was bitten by a suspected bull shark, some 750 kilometres (450 miles) north of Sydney, has been the site of a spate of serious attacks in recent months, including the death of a Japanese surfer in February.
The surfer was heard screaming during the attack by the three-metre-long (10-foot-long) animal at the tourist hub on Tuesday, police said.
"He was the only surfer in the water. A person on the beach heard him scream and saw him stumble out of the water," police inspector Nicole Bruce told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"He has come out of the water with a large bite wound to his left thigh."
The surfer, named as Sam Morgan in Australian media, was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital for surgery and was in a stable condition in an induced coma, police added.
A total of 14 shark attacks have taken place this year in New South Wales (NSW) state where Ballina is located, prompting the government to implement a five-year plan to monitor the animals.
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Ballina mayor David Wright said the government needed to introduce more aerial patrols, shark nets and lifeguards in the region immediately.
"We're going to have people in the water and we've got to make it as safe as possible," Wright told national broadcaster ABC in comments echoed by a local surf club.
NSW's Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said a shark-tagging team currently analysing the spike in attacks in the region would increase their aerial surveillance patrols.
The region was "a top priority site for the roll-out of several new shark deterrent and detection technologies", he said in a statement, adding that drone surveillance trials would kick off next month.
Most of the shark encounters this year have been concentrated along NSW's 2,000-kilometre-long coast, with just eight other attacks recorded off other states and territories.
The only other fatality in Australia this year was of a scallop diver, who was killed by a shark off Maria Island in July as his daughter watched.
Australian surf champion Mick Fanning made global headlines in July when he dramatically escaped a shark on live television while competing in a surfing event in South Africa and said it was "hard to take in" the spike in attacks.
"We need to figure out what it is and a way to deter them," he told the Daily Telegraph in Sydney.
Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, though fatalities remain rare.