Vet, businessman, life-savers speak up on shark mitigation

A 3.8metre great white swims off Fingal Head on December 19, 2016
A 3.8metre great white swims off Fingal Head on December 19, 2016 DPI

A BALLINA Shire vet, business owner and surfer are the North Coast voices represented in a Federal Government inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

Only 13 public submissions* were made to the inquiry over three months. Three were from Northern Rivers stakeholders.

Ballina Chamber of Commerce member Ray Karam was astounded at the lack of submissions and said it highlighted a need to bolster engagement between communities and the three tiers of government.

Mr Karam entered his submission yesterday after he requested an extension on last Friday's deadline.

Business and tourism issues relating to shark attacks were central to his submission.

Four surf life saving organisations, SLS Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, lodged individual submissions about impacts to operations.

NSW branch operations manager Andrew Kent called for "an overhaul" of shark attack response plans by emergency services and the Department of Primary Industries.

Mr Kent said SLS NSW advocated a statewide approach to provide "consistency in response, tasking, procedures and how long beaches should be closed" post-attack.

The latter has frustrated surf lifesavers, who have authority to open patrolled sections of beach, not an entire stretch.

Mr Kent said the split jurisdictions led to miscommunication in the public and media.

Ballina vet Peter Kerkenezov shifted the focus from community concerns to marine life.

Dr Kerkenezov cited the importance of "scientific exploration" into what he said was an "alarming decline of biodiversity", climate change and other factors "to determine their level of relevance" in the prevalence of shark encounters.

When asked why Byron Shire Council did not submit to the inquiry, mayor Simon Richardson said the process would not yield much benefit.

Cr Richardson said he was "more interested in actions on the ground" by expanding the council's work "at the forefront of non-lethal strategies" such as the Shark Watch program.


*At the time of publication on Friday, March 3, 10 public submissions were posted to the Federal Inquiry website. The additional three listed in the story were submitted close to deadline or after and haven't yet been uploaded to the website. It is understood more submissions are being processed by the inquiry body.

Topics:  northern rivers environment shark shark mitigation sharks surf life saving

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