Lennox Locals Call For Less Talk, More Action
On Friday 16 October, the NSW Government's Department of Primary Industries (DPI) held a community forum at Lennox Head Public School following the first International Shark Summit in Sydney in September.
The Sydney Summit brought together over 70 scientists and shark specialists to discuss viable options and technological advancements that could be used to to keep beaches safe as Australia heads into summer.
The Northern NSW coastline has suffered a number of attacks and two fatalities in just over a year and the community has been rattled. The debate 'to cull or no to cull' has divided the communities of this region as surfers and the general population grow anxious about the increasing number of sightings and attacks.
The Lennox Head forum hosted by the DPI's Minister Niall Blair, spoke to a packed school hall of over 250 people who turned up to find out the actions that will be taken as their peak season rolls in quick. Sadly for the locals, no immediate actions were announced but Mr Blair did promise that there were various technologies, as discussed at the Sydney Summit, that would be trialled in coming weeks and into summer. These advanced trials would aggressively push the continuing development into the best approach for both swimmers and the environment without controversial culling or the old school drumlines system.
Dr Paul Butcher of the DPI described the link between bait fish and sharks and stated that "we still believe when these bait schools disappear the sharks will too".
Shark biologists, Dr Butcher and Dr Vic Peddemores also detailed the North Coast Tagging Program which has already been started on the North Coast, targets individual sharks which appear to be frequenting waters close to shore. (See video below) In this process sharks dorsal fins are marked with satellite trackers and acoustic tags to provide an insight into their movements and speed. A DPI spokesperson said earlier this week, after the first initial findings from tagging that, "suggested that white sharks are highly mobile and can travel large distances daily".
As part of the NSW Government's shark attack mitigation campaign, other activities being undertaken on the north coast include: Deployment of DPI Fisheries boats to assess local conditions to further inform research.
- North Coast SharkSmart public education campaign and partnership with local surf clubs to distribute materials and information.
- Fast-tracked observation towers funding from the Towers Grant Program Representation on the Ballina Shire Shark Mitigation Advisory Group.
- Ongoing aerial surveys to scientifically assess seasonal changes in shark and other marine wildlife abundance and distribution.
Surf Life Saving NSW stated that their volunteers and the Australian Lifeguard Service had been working overtime in the off-season to ensure that their patrolling, surveillance and safety measures in full force leading into summer. Surf Life Saving reinforced their message that "the safest place to swim is on a patrolled beach and between the red and yellow flags."
At the conclusion of the evening, Minister Blair reinforced the message that there is 'no one-size-fits-all solution' to the issue despite concerns from locals that there are not enough resources being invested immediately into solid safety measures.
Watch the first Government tags below
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