An observation tower has been announced for Lighthouse Beach at Ballina.
An observation tower has been announced for Lighthouse Beach at Ballina. Cathy Adams

Observation tower planned for Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach

AN OBSERVATION tower will be installed at Lighthouse Beach at Ballina in an effort to improve shark surveillance.

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair made the announcement this morning.

He said more than $13,000 will be funded for "priority projects" at Ballina, Manly Beach, One Mile Beach at Port Stephens and Warilla Beach at Shellharbour.

Mr Blair said the towers will "provide a clearer line of vision for surf lifesavers to spot sharks, and is useful for spotting people in distress and monitoring beach conditions".

President of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club, Craig Nowlan, told ABC North Coast they would work with the government on any measures being proposed.

But he said his personal opinion was that a permanent observation tower would be a blight on the headland.

"We've tightened our level of viewing for sharks ... we have people up on that headland under shelters, with binoculars ... we certainly do get a greater level of viewing from there," he told the radio station.

"It's not something that we can guarantee, that we will be able to spot all sharks, but it does provide us with an added weapon in our armoury.

"(An observation tower) would provide a more permanent structure, but we wouldn't be in favour of it from an aesthetic point of view; I don't think it would be a good thing for our headland.

"Obviously I think the measures we've put in place already are adequate for what we need."

Mr Nowlan told ABC North Coast that numbers on the beaches had not dropped off as a result of increased shark sightings.

"There's a certain amount of anxiety out there ... I think people are a little bit hesitant about going further out the back ... but still able to get themselves in the water in close proximity to where we are observing what's going on and keeping a close eye on everybody," he said.

"I think the government is doing a good job, it's a very difficult situation.

"We haven't been exposed to this level of shark incidents at any time in my involvement with the club."

A seniors surf craft carnival planned for Sunday will be reviewed either tomorrow or Saturday.



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