Eco barrier will create shark-free ‘swimming haven’
LENNOX Head made history this week as it became the first site on the East Coast of Australia to have a shark eco-barrier installed.
A 12-man team moved large cement blocks onto Seven Mile Beach on the first day of construction for the three-sided, 680m barrier.
It is part of a $16 million shark strategy announced after Premier Mike Baird visited the region following a spate of shark attacks last year.
The barrier has 7 tonnes of breaking strength and will sit in front of the surf life saving building. It will be 150m across, and then 250m on either side back towards the coast, forming a closed off swimming haven.
Over the next three days, 24 two-tonne blocks will be moved onto the beach, and then lowered onto inflatable floats and moved to their specific locations in the ocean highlighted by GPS specialists.
Once in position they will be lowered where they will keep the barrier flush against the ocean floor.
Further weights will be installed later to keep the barrier moving side to side.
Global Marine Enclosures director Edward Khoury said they hoped to get all blocks situated while the weather offered the chance.
“When you see it all happening, all the plans going on in your head from the last six months – of what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen – and it happens, it is just an amazing feeling,” he said.
“We have a few good days and we are going to take full advantage of it.
“We will then start connecting the chains and anchors and when that’s done, hopefully by Friday next week, we will pull the barrier out.”
Mr Khoury said they anticipated completion by the end of the month.
The 650m shark barrier at Ballina was due to start yesterday but looks likely to get under way on Monday because parts were still arriving from overseas.
Both barriers have been opposed by local surfers because they were seen as invasive and a potential hazard.
Surfers claimed they were ‘stonewalled’ by the Department of Primary Industries at a community meeting in Lennox Head where 200 people attended, while 150 people turned out to protest at Ballina saying it would fail to keep them safe.
To date, more than 27 white sharks have now been tagged on the north coast since mid-August 2015 using VR4G shark listening stations at five North Coast beaches.
Targeted aerial surveillance is also taking place as part of a multi-pronged shark strategy