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How can we protect our lifesavers from shark attacks?

Life savers are often on the front line in a shark attack
Life savers are often on the front line in a shark attack

KEEPING surfers safe is one of the central talking points in addressing the increase of shark attacks in recent years.

But what about protecting our surf-lifesavers, who are among the first on the scene at such attacks?

Director of Surf Life-Saving Far North Coast, Chris Samuels said the attacks have taken their toll on clubs across the branch.

"The biggest issue for our branch is the burden of extra work for our volunteers and the stress on equipment," Mr Samuels said.

Ballina Shire councillor Phillip Meehan was open to the idea of expanding his proposal to subsidise shark repellents for surfers to include surf life-savers and other surf craft users.

"I'd be very open for that (shark repellent subsidies) to include surf-lifesavers and their equipment such as their rescue boards," Cr Meehan said.

"It would be a wonderful expansion of the concept."

While Mr Samuels was open to the idea of shark repellents for surf-life saving clubs in future after more research, he said funding would be better invested in providing equipment.

As securing grants becomes increasingly difficult, Mr Samuels said so too does covering the region's 285km of coastline.

"We can't have members and nothing to respond to rescues with," he said.

"Over the past few years as this shark issue has increased, the need to turn over equipment has also increased."

Mr Samuels said any funding "would be greatly appreciated" to ensure surf life-savers are equipped to respond to shark attacks quickly.

He said effective measures are in place to support volunteers through the trauma of dealing with serious attacks.

As a volunteer surf-lifesaver, All Girls president Shona Macindoe said funding priorities should lie with prevention rather than equipment to respond to the traumatic attacks.

"I think the money would be better spent in preventing the issue rather than making us (volunteer life-savers) better at responding to shark attacks once they happen," Ms Macindoe.

Ms Macindoe called for a re-evaluation of the shark exclusion net, which she said was abandoned prematurely.

She said the nets would protect all users of the ocean from surfers to nippers and surf-lifesavers.

Topics:  funding shark attacks shark repellent



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