Simon Richardson- Byron Shire Mayor
Simon Richardson- Byron Shire Mayor Doug Eaton

OPINION: Learning to live alongside sharks

WE ALL know of the shark incidents earlier in the year.

If these moments teach us anything, it is that we need to understand sharks far better. We need to be aware of their presence far quicker and we need to find ways to live alongside them.

How often have we regretted making a decision or taking an action based on anger, fear or vengeance?

How much better have our decisions been when made calmly, with logic and evidence?

When faced with genuine fear of the unknown, we instinctively and naturally move into flight or fight mode.

However, though understandable, when responding to the instinctual fear of sharks, we would be better served to collectively move above this to seek a third option - co-existence.

Leaving the water for good is not an option, nor is killing an important endangered species.

We have a resounding love of water in Australia; it's part of our psyche, part of who we are.

Therefore, when we are faced with increased shark sighting reports, for some of us it rattles our core and we start to question how we interact with the water.

I've been focused on connecting locals and global shark experts to see if we can find a way to dissolve our biggest fear - the fear of not knowing where sharks are.

If we can create a system that informs us when a shark comes into an area where we are swimming or surfing, we can then make a considered response: go and have a look, leave the water until it leaves, or move it on so we can continue to stay in the water.

In Sydney the world's experts on sharks are meeting and we will eagerly wait to see what they recommend. For the scientists it offers an opportunity to learn more, develop new technology and share the outcomes.

Here at the council we are grateful to the lifeguard and lifesaver services that are in place.

And in the sky, this week the council has commissioned a gyrocopter operator for aerial beach surveillances and relaying shark sightings back to our lifeguards.

Our waterways offer much enjoyment and fitness. Let's look out for each other this summer.


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