Compromise needed over Ballina shark barrier

SURFERS have rejected a shark protection measure designed to increase safety at our beaches.

Hundreds of them lined up at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach on Friday to protest about the impact of the introduction of a shark safety barrier.

Basically surfers are worried the positioning of the barrier will ruin their take-off zone.

Perhaps its location can be changed to take into consideration their concerns.

But it again shows how contentious this issue is and reinforces my view it is impossible to please everyone on this issue.

The NSW Government wants to spend $16 million on the roll out of a suite of shark protection measures following a spate of shark attacks on the North Coast last year.

These include shark barriers, smart drum lines, listening buoys and drones.

It all seems rather high-tech and admirable, but it has to fit in with one of the beach's major stakeholders - surfers.

As one of the organisers of last week's protest said, the shark barrier was "like putting a fence in the middle of a football field".

While a shark barrier may be good for swimmers, if it ruins surfing at Lighthouse Beach surfers will simply surf at some other beach and negate its purpose.

I'm hoping an 11th hour compromise can be reached on the roll-out of the barrier.

If the project is abandoned, or if it disenfranchises a major ocean-going movement, it's going to make us look rather silly in the eyes of the world.



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