Work on a 650-metre-long shark barrier at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach starts today, but local surfers say it puts their safety at risk as it cuts right through the middle of their surf zone.
The barrier is part of the state government’s $16 million shark management plan for the area in response to a spate of shark attacks last year, including a fatal one.
It will make Lighthouse beach the only protected beach between Gold Coast and Newcastle.
Today’s work involves laying out the weighted baseline for the mesh barrier, but surfer representatives say it should be erected further out to sea.
Surfer spokesman Mark Furnidge told the ABC today that concerns about the barrier’s precise location had been ignored.
Mr Furnidge, who has been involved in talks with Ballina Shire Council and the Department of Primary Industries, says surfers are the key stakeholders the plan is trying to protect, yet the location of the barrier makes it a safety hazard for surfers.
He feared surfers could become entangled in the barrier or that it could be a safety risk for people caught in an outgoing rip.
A similar barrier is planned to be installed at Lennox Head in June.
Meanwhile, shark patrols and aerial surveillance of beaches on the north coast, under the government’s management plan, continues till Easter.