Ballina Council calls for review of whale carcass disposal
BALLINA Shire Council has called on the State Government to review its policy on the disposal of whale carcasses after widespread hysteria in coastal communities that burying the creatures on the beach could attract sharks.
Community pressure earlier this month led to a baby humpback being exhumed from a beach in South Ballina.
It came just days after the animal washed ashore and was buried in nearby dunes under the direction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
World-first research is under way by Southern Cross University to determine if leachate from whale carcasses draws in marine predators.
In a bid to "err on the side of caution", Councillor Sharon Cadwallader put forward a motion at today's meeting asking the State Government to review existing procedures about marine carcass disposal.
"I really think we need to pressure the State Government to develop a policy ... to say that they would take full responsibility of those carcasses that wash up on beaches," she said.
"That should not be put onto local councils to bare the burden of that cost ... it should worn by State Government."
She called on her fellow councillors to take the lead on the issue, which she said was not isolated to Ballina with recent incidents in Port Macquarie, around the nation and the world.
An Office of Environment and Heritage spokeswoman said it was reviewing its whale carcass disposal policy and that the review would involve consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders.
Councillor Phillip Meehan attempted to take Cr Cadwallader's motion further by requesting that the State Government don't bury whales on coastlines within the Richmond Valley as well as Ballina and Byron Shire Council areas.
The amendment was voted down with Cr Keith Williams refusing to speak for other councils.
After about 20 minutes debating the motion, councillors voted unanimously to write to the State Government to ask it to review whale carcass disposal on Ballina Shire beaches.
Group Manager civil services John Truman suggested a letter be written to Richmond Valley and Byron Shire Councils asking for their support for the review. It was also voted unanimously in favour by the council.
Councillor Ben Smith was absent.