Shark Forum, Take Two

Pictured above, the Bite Club Boys.  Story and pic by Vic Leto.

In a follow up to the N.S.W. Department of Primary Industries first Community Shark forum held in October 2015, Lennox again hosted another on Tuesday 28th June.

A crowd of about 175 people gathered at the Community Centre for a D.P.I. update on the research work and shark management strategies put in place since last year and future mitigation methods yet to be rolled out.

Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright noted that since last year the latest information coming from local Surf Lifesaving Clubs was member numbers and participation were down 20% in Ballina and 30% in Lennox and this is mainly due to community concerns of the impact of the shark issue.

The D.P.I. is intent that the Eco Barriers go ahead and be installed at the originally designated locations after some minor adjustments to locations: Ballina’s North Wall to Lighthouse Beach, and near the surf club vicinity Lennox Beach.

To the protests of many surfers and commercial fisherman about possible safety concerns and navigational hazards (especially with the North Wall option) the D.P.I. taking these concerns on board believe; after their updated reappraised of risk assessment and further risk management strategies, the Eco Barriers warrant an experimental trial for at least one year to possibly three.

On this, community views are being sought on the trial of the shark barriers and an online survey is now underway and will be conducted before the barriers are installed, 12-months after installation, and at the completion of the trial. The current part of the survey can be done now by visiting the Ballina Council website http://www.ballina.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-FPU-11-04-66

The main concern for the Lennox barrier was whether the barriers would withstand an East Coast low? The DPI believes it will.

As for the VR4G Listening Station (detects tagged sharks) which was the yellow buoy previously positioned off Lennox headland and which fell victim to the recent east coast low, losing its anchor and smashed up skewed along the rocks of the point, it will be replaced a.s.a.p.

There will also be a continuation of current helicopters aerial surveillance. Early trials of drones have already shown they can be more cost efficient and also offer the same results as costly helicopters. So trials of drones will also continue.

The research work the DPI has been doing with shark tagging will continue.

For some astounding facts on where the tagged sharks have travelled or further information on DPI shark research or other info on sharks and safety head to the NSW D.P.I. website. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/sharks

In reality the most important message to come from the forum came from Shark survivor and ‘Bite Club Support Group’ member Dale Carr who urged respect from both sides of the contentious and polarised views between culling to cuddling sharks. Wherever you stand on this point, his message about the sensitive human elements of P.T.S.D. on individuals and that filters into the community after a shark takes a bite is a must watch and his message should be taken on board by all.

Watch Dale’s speech here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-JrHPpKOKE

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