Revamped surf club to help prevent shark attacks
A NEW new surf lifesaving facility was re-opened to safeguard the East Ballina coastline on Saturday.
Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club, established in the 1930s, patrolled at Lighthouse Beach until the facility fell into disrepair in the early 2000s.
The club's members moved to the Shelly Beach Surf Life Saving Club facility, while their club house was re-built, moving back to Lighthouse Beach three seasons ago.
The Shelly Beach building was then left in urgent need of repair and was re-opened as a new training and education facility with a new shark alarm on Saturday.
SLS Far North Coast (from Tweed Heads to Yamba) president Wilson Cregan said the large space will also be used to host community events for groups such as Ballina Yoga and local police.
"This facility is in community hands, and it's created jobs with a part-time administrative assistant, hired with the help of Tursa," Mr Cregan said.
"It's a base for SLS Far North Coast and serves as a facility for the permanent lifeguards who patrol the beach when the patrols are not on (September to March), giving us presence on Shelly Beach."
As many as 300 surf lifesavers are expected to use the facility this summer, with shark attack response and surveillance, a key component of their training.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith opened the centre, with NSW and Federal Government funding helping to pay for the revamp.
"The facility will enable professional staff to carry out and coordinate lifesaving activities in the Northern Rivers," Ms Smith said.
"It will also be a point of contact for the public and marine rescue groups that has not previously been available."
Northern Rivers SLS clubs provide over 5000 hours of voluntary patrol hours each season.
- In October 2016, a man was bitten on the leg by shark at Sharpes Beach, between Ballina and Lennox Head.
- Also in October, a man was bitten by a shark also while surfing at Sharpes Beach.
- In September, a 17-year-old boy was bitten on the upper leg by a great white shark while surfing at Lighthouse Beach.
- In November 2015, a junior surf champion was attacked by a bull shark at Lighthouse Beach.
- In July, a bodyboarder was bitten by a great white shark at Lighthouse Beach.
- In February, Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a great white shark at Shelly Beach, near Ballina.
- Also in February, a surfer was bitten by a shark in the buttocks at Seven Mile Beach near Ballina.
- In January, a surfer is flung a metre into the air after his board was struck by a shark at Flat Rocks near Ballina.