The captain of the Lennox Head Surf Club wants roving jet ski patrols introduced to fill a ‘missing link’ in Ballina Shire Council’s shark mitigation strategy.
Club captain Neil Kennedy has written to the council’s general manager Paul Hickey outlining how jet ski patrols could be used.
In his letter Mr Kennedy detailed a recent patrol he conducted.
‘Originally I went out to look at a large bait-ball in front of the Lennox flags at the request of the Lifeguard on duty – within 1⁄2 an hour I was responding to a call from the Sharpes Beach Lifeguard about the 2 helicopters circling above the swimmers and surfers.
‘At Sharpes when I got there (less than 15 mins by ski as I was already on the water) we undertook a preventative action of advising the surfers to clear the water as I had sighted what I am about 80-90 per cent sure was a shark.
‘During the entire three hour session on the ski I conducted a roving patrol from the north end of 7 mile beach down to mid Angels Beach and back.
‘In that period I observed what could only be described as an inordinate amount of bait balls (est 100+) the majority of which had high levels of marine activity surrounding (sea birds diving, dolphins feeding, whales with calves and 1 suspected shark).’
Mr Kennedy said during his patrol he engaged with surfers, commercial surf operators, unpatrolled beach users and swimmers in patrolled areas.
‘I believe the roving jet ski patrol is the key missing link in Council’s response to shark mitigation at the moment,’ he said.
Mr Kennedy wants to see two one-man shifts each day, with the operator roving between Seven Mile Beach and South Wall.
The operator would be in constant communication with surf clubs, life guards on duty and most importantly, any helicopters or fixed wing aircraft.
Ballina Shire councillors will consider the request today as a result of a notice of motion lodged by Cr Sue Meehan.