OPINION: Red tape tying up a valuable ocean rescue service

WHO rescues the rescuers?

There have been at least two occasions, probably more, when the Ballina Jet Boat has had to come to the aid of other rescuers who found themselves in deep trouble.

The most recent event, when the Marine Rescue vessel capsized during a night-towing rescue, was outstanding and justifiably earned bravery awards for the jet boat crew.

So the sea of red tape this group is tossing around on now is disturbing.

The guys in the jet boat crew are rough-water specialists that everyone would want to be ready to act in minutes when things get tough. They're fit, highly trained and their craft is perfect for situations where propellers spin uselessly in whitewater.

Day or night, fair weather or foul, they can succeed in rescue scenarios where even helicopters can't.

The Marine Rescue volunteers certainly do a fine enough job within their limitations of experience, training, crew age and vessel capability.

But I know who I'd want ready to roll if I were churning about in the whitewater and in danger of drowning.

Forty years of experience and community service outweighs any amount of bureaucracy and power plays from armchair admirals.

The Shropshire Star's
The Shropshire Star's "pirahna" story.

Worse than piranha

IT SOUNDED scary and sold a stack of papers, so the story of sewers clogged by dead piranhas in the British town of Telford got a big run in the past few days.

These fanged finny fiends of the Amazon apparently were pets discarded by UK fish fanciers, according to the tabloids, and piles of rotting piranhas blocked the sewers of Telford.

The local paper, the Shropshire Star, ran a picture with the breaking story and readers soon smelt a rat - the "piranha" ended up being another very popular aquarium fish, the tilapia.

Thus a story sparking global horror just went down the toilet.

But in Australia, tilapia are themselves a horror story. These African fish, in the top 100 of the world's worst introduced species, are listed as noxious in NSW and can easily outcompete Australian native fish.

Possession and sale of live tilapia in NSW can bring fines of $11,000.

No NSW population is known to exist but there are breeding populations in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

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