Jet ski patrols to hit the beaches in Ballina this summer
IN A NEW effort to make its waters safer from sharks, Ballina Shire will receive a report on whether jet ski shark patrols are a worthwhile option.
Councillors will receive a report on the proposal put forward by Lennox Head-Alstonville surf club captain Neil Kennedy at the last council meeting.
In a letter to the council Mr Kennedy wrote that he believed "the roving jet ski patrol is the key missing link in Council's response to shark mitigation at the moment".
The jetskis would be manned by paid lifeguards and one idea was for them to work in tandem with aerial spotters.
Mr Kennedy proposed that there be two three-hour shifts morning and afternoon, from 9am to noon, and 12.30pm to 3.30pm, covering the coast from Lighthouse Beach to Seven Mile Beach.
In backing the proposal, Cr Meehan said the benefit of the shark patrols was for communication purposes with surfers, surf schools, and swimmers and other recreational water users.
"When the helicopter sees a shark, that roving jet ski can (quickly) say to the surfers there's a shark there," she said.
"At the moment a lifeguard has to leave his post, drive down to wherever the shark was spotted, and there's a big time lag there."
Cr Meehan pointed out the Lennox-Alstonville club currently had a jet ski stationed there which was available to use for the patrols.
"We've got this resource; this something we know can make a difference, so let's do it.
"Let's give it a go for this summer when we've got a clear and present issue."
The cost of the extra patrols would cost Ballina Shire Council effectively a little more than a full-time lifeguard position for the duration of summer and until at least Easter.