Shark mitigation experts from South Africa will be visiting Ballina next month to determine whether the ‘Shark Spotters’ program would work in the area.
A crowd-funding campaign by Sea Shepherd and the No Shark Cull group has raised enough funds to bring two representatives of the group to Australia, where they will visit Ballina, Western Australia and Sydney.
The Shark Spotters program uses a system of spotters, flags and alarms, along with towers to alert ocean users to the presence of sharks and other marine life, which may attract sharks.
National Shark Campaign Coordinator for Sea Shepherd Australia, Natalie Banks said it was only through the crowd-funding campaign that the Shark Spotters were able to come to Australia.
‘A scientific review held last year in New South Wales, indicated that Shark Spotters was the only initiative that was ready immediately for a trial in northern New South Wales, but this recommendation appears to have been ignored,’ Ms Banks said.
;Shark Spotters has been operating successfully in South Africa for over eleven years, spotting over 700 white sharks at eight beaches, with only one fatality occurring on a low visibility day which was indicated by the flying of a black flag.’
Ms Banks said the program allowed beach users to make informed decisions on whether to go into the surf or not.
“Through years of collected data and research, the program is even able to specify certain times of the year that are deemed low risk for particular events.”
‘We currently are not capitalising on the sightings from aerial patrols or the community, to inform beach goers of what is happening at their local beach in terms of marine life activity,’ she said.
The Ballina forum will be held at Dunes on Shelly Beach in East Ballina on 17 March at 6.30pm.
Other forums will take place in Gracetown and Perth in West Australia, and Sydney in New South Wales.
Meanwhile, drum lines have been installed along the coast at Ballina, and barrier nets are expected to be operational by the end of the month.