An Evans Head residents group wants to know whether spoil from dredging in the Evans River might be attracting sharks.
Photographs taken just days before Craig Ison was attacked last Friday show spoil from the dredging being pumped into the ocean.
Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development vice president Richard Gates said the spoil ‘is hardly clean water’.
Dr Gates said the spoil smelled like rotting organic matter, and referred back to the days when nearby Byron Bay was a whaling centre.
‘(Back then) the water was full of blood from the harpooned whales and organic matter in the water and there were sharks everywhere,’ he said.
Dr Gates said the current spoil could be having the same effect.
‘Might it be the case that the smelly material being dumped into the surf over a number of days acted to act the sharks….a form of burley or chum?,’ he said.
‘Did it increase the risk to surfers?
Dr Gates said there was no risk assessment of dumping spoil in the dredging’s review of environmental factors.
‘In my view such an assessment should have been made as there is sufficient mention of the problems of outfalls and certain types of pollution and sharks,’ he said.
Dr Gates said it wasn’t a coincidence that there had been shark attacks at both Ballina and Evans Head in recent times.
‘At Ballina the polluted Richmond River flows into the sea. The recent study of the Richmond tells us it’s not in the best of nick,’ he said.
‘And at Evans Head there is the spoil from the dredging operation leaching into the sea and flowing out into the ocean from the river.
‘Perhaps there should be a moratorium on the use of the beach until well after the dredging is complete and the water being released into the ocean needs to be cleaned up properly and tested for dissolved organic matter and other potential attractants for sharks.’