Surfers have gathered on Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach to protest against the installation of a shark barrier system.
Around 150 surfers turned up at Lighthouse Beach yesterday afternoon, one of the locations where the New South Wales Government was due to install a 650-metre eco-barrier.
The popular surf break was the site of three serious shark attacks in 2015, one of them fatal.
Protest organiser Mark Hernage said those who used the surf spot were concerned the barrier would put people at risk and ruin a good surf break.
“The proposed placement of this barrier is right in the surf zone and even on different swells and conditions, is going to be inside the surf zone so surfers would become entangled in this net,” he said.
The surfers want a re-think of where the barrier will be placed.
“The proposed barrier placement that we have come up with as surfers will maximise what we have as surfers and this beautiful place to surf, but [will] also not be a hindrance or hazard to us,” Mr Hernage said.
Mayor ‘gob-smacked’ by protest
Ballina’s mayor David Wright, was at the protest and is calling for calm and patience.
Councillor Wright said he understood people’s resistance to change but he could not understand the safety concerns about the barrier.
“It’s made of fishing line as thick as your little finger, there’s nothing to hurt you or grab you, there’s nothing there,” he said.
“[As a] matter of fact, the surf club thinks it will be a rescuer,” Cr Wright said.
“If anyone does get out there, then they can just hang on to it because it is just like a ladder.”
But Cr Wright wants the surfers to at least trial the chosen site before making a decision on whether it was right or wrong.
He asked for “a month or two of grace” to see if the barrier was proving to be in the wrong place and if it was, he said the Department of Primary Industries’ deputy director had agreed the barrier could be moved.
“I would have thought that people who were disadvantaged for a little while could wait and see what happens,” Cr Wright said.
“If another attack happens, you will be morally responsible and this barrier has been recommended as the best thing to protect the beach.”
The Mayor said he was “gob-smacked” by the surfers’ protest.
Source: ABC News