NSWDPI tagging team advise 2.14m female White Shark tagged & release Boambee Beach @ Coffs using SD tech. Shark #36
NSWDPI tagging team advise 2.14m female White Shark tagged & release Boambee Beach @ Coffs using SD tech. Shark #36 Contributed

Shark barrier fail leaving community exposed

AS SUMMER approaches, so does concern for shark safety amongst local surfers and beachgoers on the North Coast who have been left questioning what is ahead with recent strategies being abandoned.

Yesterday the Department of Primary Industries released a statement confirming the Lennox Head shark barrier trial had been discontinued.

It comes a month after the discontinuation of the barrier trial at Ballina's Lighthouse beach, with both projects experiencing difficulty with installation due to large swells and constant sand movement.

''Both the Lennox Head and Ballina shark barriers failed the first test of safe and effective instalment,” the DPI said.

The shark barrier trial faced opposition by local surfers, who insisted that the east coast currents would affect the stability and safety of these barriers.

Local surfer and member of the Surfrider Foundation Mark Hernage said, "it's not surprising the trials have been discontinued, these were the exact concerns the surfing community tried to tell the DPI when the installation was proposed.”

"Moving forward it is my hope that the DPI and local council will consult the wider community and in particular local surfers for an effective solution.”

When asked about the discontinuation of the shark barriers, Ballina mayor David Wright said, "it is important to understand that this was a trial”.

Looking ahead, "we recognise that we can't do nothing and hope to roll out other strategies”.

"With technology advancing so fast we are currently looking at running a trial along the headlands with Westpac sponsored Little Ripper Life Saver drones, I am currently in negotiations with Deputy Director Dr Geoff Allan,” Cr Wright said.

The popularity of drone technology is at the forefront on a global scale with constantly evolving developments in design and function.

SOPHISTICATED: The Mini Ripper in action over Shelly Beach on Sunday.
SOPHISTICATED: The Mini Ripper in action over Shelly Beach on Sunday. Contributed

CEO of Little Ripper Life Saver, Eddie Bennet said, "the point of difference with our drones is the loud speaker designed to alert people and the ability to drop 'marine pods' containing shark shield technology to anyone in distress.”

"Local surf life saving clubs will operate the drones and will be trained by licensed pilots,” Mr Bennet said.

In continuing with the NSW $16 million shark management strategy, the Department of Primary Industries released a statement that said, "NSW DPI will continue to work closely with the local community to explore complimentary shark mitigation technologies included in the strategy and suited to local conditions.”



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