Ocean prof frustrated by system

PROFESSOR Mal Heron said he was frustrated at the unsatisfactory public consultation for a proposed coastal ocean monitoring system at Red Rock, but had decided to submit a revised proposal which would meet as many of residents' concerns as possible.

The James Cook University professor is the team leader for ACORN, a national network of ocean remote sensing stations being installed with Federal and State funding.

Stations at North Nambucca Heads and Red Rock are the last two locations to be added to the system, which is designed to provide data to improve the management and use of coastal oceans.

The two stations will monitor large-scale currents between them and out to about 100km offshore, especially the Eastern Australian current. The locations have been chosen because of their distance from Coffs Harbour and the shape of the coastline.

The data will overlap with measurements from buoys moored off Coffs Harbour, which is the focus of the local system.

All the data, including sea surface maps, will be freely available for recreational and commercial users as well as government and research organisations.

Prof Heron, who visited Red Rock at the weekend to talk to residents, said he had applied for the Red Rock array in 2008 and the process of trying to gain approval through the Land and Property Management Authority had been “dreadful”.

Concerns about the sensing station have centred on 16 three-metre high radio antenna poles along the northern end of the beach. Prof Heron has proposed a change to allay these fears.

He said this would slightly degrade the data collected but he hoped it would be an acceptable compromise.



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