Shark menace tests authorities to limit

WITH no State Government money forthcoming for shark surveillance flights, politicians, police and surf lifesaving club members are going beyond the call of duty to keep our beaches safe.

Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis said he was in ongoing discussions about risk aversion measures for the management of sharks.

The State Government is reluctant to fund aerial surveillance because it is not the most effective risk deterrent measure.

For example, surfers are often in the water at dawn and dusk when there is no surveillance, and surveillance cannot be undertaken around the clock.

Premier Mike Baird announced in January that the Government would spend $100,000 trialling a sonar-based shark detection system at New South Wales beaches.

"I have also discussed the opportunity of holding a workshop in Ballina about emerging shark-deterring technologies called for by the Premier and the possibility of trialling a pilot in Ballina," Mr Gulaptis said.

Meanwhile, Ballina Mayor Cr David Wright and Ballina MP Tamara Smith have picked up for the tab the past two Sunday aerial patrols at their beaches.

Ballina Shire Council has put forward $15,000 a month for helicopter patrols six days a week, but the politicians made an unpublicised snap decision to ensure public safety.

"Sunday is the most popular beach day. We needed to ensure the public was kept safe," Cr Wright said.

"Without the help of the local aero club and Air T&G Helicopter Services there would be more tragedies."

Cr Wright said local services were stretched dealing with the dire safety concern.

"We have lifesaving club members taking long service leave in order to patrol beaches," he said.

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