Ballina’s mayor David Wright thinks tagging sharks may be the way to prevent further attacks at local beaches.
Cr Wright said he was ‘totally against shark culling but the tagging system is working in Queensland’.
Recent shark attacks have garnered national and international attention, and Cr Wright said Ballina had the opportunity to be ‘leading the way’ with shark deterrence strategies.
Meanwhile, the Skullcandy Oz Grom surf contest at Lennox Head will continue until Wednesday despite ongoing fears of shark attacks.
The first day of the popular contest, which has attracted almost 300 young surfers, was cancelled after Thursday’s attack on a surfer at North Wall, and a second shark encounter at Lennox Head on Friday.
Organisers and Ballina Shire Council organised unprecedented surveillance for the contest to allay the fears of surfers and parents.
That has included a fixed-wing plane and a helicopter, backed up by on-the-water support including two jet skis, an IRB, a jet boat and 24 rostered surf lifesavers on patrol.
‘Governments need to take action because we’ve had four attacks within five kilometres in five months, he said.
‘It’s not something to be proud of but we’ve got to do something to prevent them,’ he said.
Following an attack which killed a Japanese surfer earlier this year, both Tweed and Ballina shire mayors met with the NSW nosharkcull group, lifeguards and Sea Shepherd.
Cr Wright said the plane being used as part of the surveillance of the surf contest had been brought up from Sydney as a result of those talks.
It will be leaving tomorrow and helicopters will continue to patrol local beaches.
Meanwhile, Cr Wright said a debrief would be held at the end of the event to discuss further strategies, although plans were already in place for next year to have a drone monitoring the beaches.
‘A drone will keep the costs down next year and also provide footage which will be beamed all around the world,’ he said.
He rejected a suggestion from Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis that north coast beaches should be netted, saying it was impractical.
‘We have 15 kilometres of beaches … we’ve got to come up with other solutions.’
He called for a nation-wide approach to managing the risks of shark attacks, but said Ballina could lead the way.
Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall said a regional approach needs to be taken because of the large shark sightings and attacks in Ballina and for the three coastal councils in NSW’s north east to take a regional strategy to shark monitoring.
Meanwhile, friends and relatives of Mathew Lee, who has been fighting for his life in a Gold Coast hospital since being attacked at North Wall on Thursday, gathered on Saturday at North Wall.
About 100 people attended the event, donating money to help with Mr Lee’s medical costs and to sign a bodyboard that will be presented to Mr Lee to show the community’s support.