There will be no quick removal for shark barrier

SIGNS are up at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head warning swimmers about the remaining shark barrier.
SIGNS are up at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head warning swimmers about the remaining shark barrier. Marc Stapelberg

REMOVAL of the Lennox Head shark barrier will not take place for two weeks while tender is put out to find a salvage company to assist in the removal.

Global Marine Enclosures director Edward Khoury said that they would not rush the removal of the Lennox Head shark Barrier on Seven Mile Beach to ensure the safety of marine life and reduce the dispersion of debris.

He said that it was an enormous operation as the barrier was designed to have 7 tonnes of breaking strength and resist 400 tonnes of ocean force and was installed to last, but that it was very important to take every single thing out effectively, safely and in a way that protects the environment.

"You can't rush this, you can't mess it up,” he said.

Now, the enormous structure will work against salvages as it becomes increasingly difficult to remove from under the water.

Mr Khoury said that he was heartbroken to see the structure undermined in the 11th hour by unpredictable ocean swells, but at the same time highlighted that it was a pioneering trial that has advanced the understanding of shark barrier installations.

He said that at another project in Albany they had faced the completely unanticipated reality of 80 tonnes of seagrass being swept in overnight and left a metre high on the beach.

After some planning and adjustments they were able to create a barrier that lasted two seasons.

He said on this project the phenomenal fast movement of sand and swells had swept away a large amount sand from the major corner block where the net had subsequently frayed against the block.

"Every single beach is different.

"Each beach has it's own personality.

"This beach has a personality that you cannot believe because it is a bit of a Jekyll and Hide beach.

"There is gully right in the area where we put the barrier where you get water swept to the left and water swept to the right.

"Depending on what time of day and which way the wind is blowing that affects everything you do.

"The thing is we have worked it out.

"It is sad that we will have to wait or never have another opportunity again - it would be great to have a second opportunity.

"The reason I am actually doing this is I don't like culling sharks, I don't like seeing innocent marine creatures being caught as by-catch and dying for no reason.

"That is an environmental disaster.

"I am doing this because I believe that we need a better solution than what we have got.

"We are pioneering this and risking reputation, financial ruin, and embarrassment.

"Somebody has to do it and I am a responsible industrial designer who has an obligation to take this on because I have the ability to solve these kinds of problems.”

When asked about the discontinuation of the shark barriers, Ballina mayor David Wright said, "it is important to understand that this was a trial”.

"Very disappointing” was how Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club president Geoff Harris described the current situation.

Mr Harris said there would be no disruption to the summer swimming season as they would just move patrols further up the beach outside of the shark barrier work area.

He was quoted as saying that the club was relying on the shark barrier to encourage a healthy sign up of new members this year after a disappointing season last year - blamed squarely on fear of sharks.

"We had our sign on for new members on Sunday which looked pretty promising and their number looked like being up, but most of them were up I think because of the net,” Mr Harris said.

"We were pretty sure it was going to work,” Mr Harris said.

"Ed (Khoury, Globarl Marine Enclosures director) and his crew has done a magnificent job they really tried hard to get it out there, but unfortunately it wasn't to be.

Topics:  edward khoury, lennox head, seven mile beach, shark barrier

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