Signs warning of dangerous surf conditions at Main Beach Byron Bay on the last day of the school holidays. Surf lifesavers were warning people to only swim between the flags.
Signs warning of dangerous surf conditions at Main Beach Byron Bay on the last day of the school holidays. Surf lifesavers were warning people to only swim between the flags. Cathy Adams

Black spot on beauty

BYRON Shire has some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, but also some of the deadliest when it comes to drownings.

The shire has been identified as one of the 10 top black spots for drownings in NSW, according to Surf Life Saving NSW.

Tallow Beach has also been classified as the most dangerous beach in the shire, with beaches south of Broken Head including Whites, Brays and Kings also rated dangerous because of their remoteness and infrequency of use.

Main Beach through to The Pass is considered safe (subject to conditions).

Surf Life Saving NSW is currently conducting a statewide coastal public safety risk assessment project called Project Blueprint, which began in July and targets priority black spots for coastal drownings throughout NSW.

The first phase of the project will target black spots in 10 local government areas including Tweed, Byron and Ballina shires. Surf Life Saving NSW coastal risk officer Stuart Massey said assessment of Byron Shire beaches had just been completed.

"The beaches here are beautiful, but there's also been quite a few drownings," he said.

"This study hopes to provide water safety agencies, as well as local councils and other groups, with an effective strategy to reduce the coastal drowning toll."

Mr Massey said even though the beach from Main Beach through to The Pass was considered among the safest in the shire, the multi-use of the area by surfers, boaties, kite surfers and divers had increased its risk factor.

He said the study was also targeting rock fishermen, who were urged to wear life jackets when fishing.

Project manager Adam Weir said Surf Life Saving's goal was to reduce drownings by 50% in the next decade.

For more information on the project and to find out how to be part of the process, go to coastsafe.org.au/blueprint.

 

DROWNING STATISTICS

In the Byron shire over the past five years:

  • 2007-2008 - Coastal drowning at Brunswick Heads
  • 2007-2008 - Coastal drowning at Wategos Beach
  • 2007- 2008 - Coastal drowning at Belongil Beach
  • 2007-2008 - Coastal drowning at Byron Bay
  • 2009-2010 - Coastal drowning at Suffolk Park
  • 2011-2012 - Coastal drowning at Belongil Beach
  • 2011-2012 - Coastal drowning at Belongil Beach


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