Migrating whales, baitfish and marine parks are causing a ‘McDonalds drive through’ situation for sharks that has the NSW north coast surfing community scared.
That’s according to Don Munro, president of the LeBA (Lennox-Ballina) Boardriders Association, who called a meeting that was last night attended by about 200 surfers and other community members.
They came from Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Evans Head.
Mr Munro said the general consensus of the meeting was that a limited shark cull was required to remove sharks causing problems in local waters.
He said seven large sharks had been identified hanging around the area, and they should be removed.
‘There are other things we’d like to see implemented but the general consensus was that we need controlled management of sharks, not wholesale slaughter,’ Mr Munro told Echonetdaily.
‘Surfers are very conscious of sharing the ocean but the situation is not getting any better,’ he said.
‘Since they stopped culling 17 years ago we’re now seeing the results of that.
‘The juveniles are now very big sharks, fish stocks are declining, there is more baitfish around, and the marine parks are bringing them in.
‘It’s creating a McDonalds drive-by situation for the sharks.’
Mr Munro said the increased shark activity in local waters was also having a major impact on local businesses.
‘We’re the shark hotspot right now and the community wants to see something happening,’ he said.
He said a number of initiatives were put forward at the meeting which would be acted upon.
They included setting up a webpage with information so that people could be properly informed about the situation, and it would also be used to encourage people to sign petitions calling on the state government to act.
Another initiative was to set up an education program so that young people were better informed about what to look out for in the water, such as the presence of baitfish, birds, dolphins, and also when sharks were most active.
Such a program could operate in schools, but also on local beaches, Mr Munro said.
Ballina’s mayor David Wright attended the meeting, along with Inspector Cameron Lindsey from the police. They are both members of a committee that has been working to develop strategies to prevent further attacks.
Cr Wright said the frustration of the community was apparent, but many people did not understand the limited powers the council had to act.
He said much of the frustration was being directed at the state government, which was not being seen to have acted.
‘People understand that there is research being done but say we have a problem now and can’t afford to wait two months for any action.
Cr Wright said he did not personally support culling sharks, as he believed others would simply move into the area to take their place.
‘I don’t want another incident but if I thought culling would solve the problem I’d think about it, but I don’t think it would solve the problem,’ he said.
Cr Wright said council staff have been in contact with the NSW Department of Primary Industries this morning to pass on the sentiments of the meeting.