Major announcement about Ballina shark barrier to be made
UPDATE 12.45PM: A MAJOR announcement on the Ballina Lighthouse Beach shark barrier is expected to be made by the Department of Primary Industries in the next 24 hours.
Neither Ballina mayor David Wright nor the Perth firm responsible for installing the barrier, Eco Shark Barrier, was prepared to specifically comment on the matter when asked.
Cr Wright said the DPI would be making the announcement via a press release and it was "nothing to do with council".
"I do know because I have been informed," he said, adding he couldn't say anything further.
"It's not that it won't be done, it's just something that's come up."
The construction of the barrier has been hampered by delays to date due to unsafe conditions for divers as a result of moving sand banks and easterly swells.
11.45AM: BALLINA surfer Mark Herning has said the Department of Primary Industries failed to properly consult with surfers and other local groups over the exact location of the planned Lighthouse Beach shark barrier.
Commenting this morning, Mr Herning said the DPI made some initial consultation with Le-Ba Boardriders about the idea of a shark barrier at Lighthouse, but never went back to them for follow up discussions.
"(It went from) speaking to some people at Le-Ba about the idea of having a barrier to 'that's where it going and that's what we're going to do'," Mr Herning said.
"The whole process has been a massive shambles."
The Shaws Bay resident said he was surfing North Wall over the Easter weekend and the rope which marks the planned barrier line was too close to the surf zone and also ran a buoy with a footing on it also "ran right through the flags".
"I'm really surprised no one was injured."
He said sharks "crossed his mind" but the hazard of a shark barrier could be more of a threat to public safety.
"(And) I think they are going to wreck a really good surf break… it handles small south swells beautifully and their going to put a net right through it."
5AM: SURFERS' hopes the Lighthouse Beach shark barrier will be expanded have been dashed, with the Department of Primary Industries ruling out any changes to the planned structure.
A DPI spokesman said the department and contractor Eco-Shark Barriers had investigated changing the location of the barrier but were "unable to at this stage of the trial".
Surfers want to see the barrier run at a 45 degree angle out to sea from North Wall rather than parallel to the beach so it encloses the full range of swell on larger days and isn't a hazard.
But the DPI spokesman said this wasn't possible.
"A location for the barrier further out to sea in deeper water at Lighthouse Point is technically unfeasible, and extending it at North Wall would be a navigational hazard for boat users leaving the entrance to the Richmond River," the spokesman said.
"It is important to recognise that these barriers are new technology and that is why the (NSW) Government is trialling them as one possible way to support the people of the North Coast who are understandably concerned about recent shark incidents."
The spokesman said the location of the barriers at Lighthouse Beach and Lennox Head had been determined "in consultation with local stakeholders, including boardriders and Ballina Council".
"An undertaking has been given to boardrider groups that their views will be specifically sought during the trial and would help inform the evaluation of the barrier."