Marine Conservation Group Wants Trained Shark Spotters for NSW

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Marine conservation group, Sea Shepherd, is lobbying to have trained shark spotters stationed in areas of North Coast NSW and WAs south-west coast.

Sea Shepherd has used crowd funding to bring to Australia two South African surfers who instigated the system in South Africa.

They will address community forums in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales later this month.

Sea Shepherd’s Natalie Banks said the spotting system, which used flags to advise surfers if sharks had been seen, had worked well in the notoriously shark-infested waters around Cape Town.

“Over 11 years they’ve had one fatality,” Ms Banks said.

“One of the other good things about this system is that it notifies beach users when the spotters have low-visibility days.

“That was indicated on that day, and a surfer chose to go out unfortunately and was taken.

“One fatality in 11 years is actually quite a good record at eight beaches.”

Ms Banks said the program had been started by surfers for surfers.

“It was mates looking after mates initially, and then volunteers,” she said.

“They are now at a stage where they are sponsored and the local government supports them … and they have training in emergency [response] and medical training.”

Marine ecologist Jann Gilbert said the New South Wales north coast was an ideal location for a shark-spotting program.

The region has experienced an unprecedented spate of shark attacks and sightings over the past 18 months, including fatal attacks at Ballina and Byron Bay.

“We’ve got some great natural headlands that provide very good vantage points,” she said.

“There are probably a couple of areas, like Flat Rock, where a tower may need to be built.

“But I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibilities.”

Source: ABC

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