Ballina beaches have reopened this morning but Lennox Head beaches will remain closed following a shark attack on a teenager yesterday.
Lifesavers patrolled Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach, Sharpes Beach and Shelly Beach this morning after they were closed for 24 hours following the attack on 17-year-old Cooper Allen.
Lennox Head will remain closed after lifesavers spotted a shark during the early morning sweep.
Surf Lifesaving NSW released a statement this morning saying the decision to reopen the beaches was made at a meeting involving the NSW Department of Primary Industries, council representatives, NSW police, and lifeguards.
Lifeguards will continue to monitor the beaches for any shark activity with the safety of the public remaining the number one priority.
Meanwhile, Cr Jeff Johnson told Echonetdaily that the attack on the surfer added weight to the push for an ocean pool at Ballina.
Cr Johnson has lodged a notice of motion to be debated at Thursday’s meeting calling for the ocean pool to be included in the NSW shark mitigation strategy.
‘An ocean pool won’t protect surfers but it will provide a safe environment for swimmers and given that the Lennox enclosure was designed to protect swimmers, that money could be used to fund the ocean pool,’ Cr Johnson said.
He said the state government should also consider subsidising personal protection devices like the Shark Shield, which costs around $700.
‘If part of the $17 million from the shark mitigation strategy could go to subsidising surfers who want protection devices it would go a long way towards reducing the fear and anxiety many people are feeling,’ he said.
Cr Ben Smith has also lodged a motion calling for the council to receive a report on options to fully fund an ocean pool at Shelly Beach.
Cr Smith also wants the report to investigate the funding that would be required to bring Shaws Bay up to what would be considered ocean pool standard, including the removal of excess seagrass and improved water flow between the bay and the ocean.
Meanwhile, the teenage surfer who needed stitches after being bitten by a shark yesterday is recovering in hospital.
Cooper Allen, 17, was surfing at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach on Monday morning when the shark bit him on the upper thigh, leaving four huge gashes five centimetres apart, according to fellow boardrider Dan Webber.
A Lismore Base hospital spokeswoman told AAP the teen was lucky to require only a few stitches.
It was the 11th shark attack on a 70km stretch of the north coast between Byron Bay and Evans Head since January last year, five of them at Ballina beaches including the death of Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara.