Shark buoys put boaties at risk, says Sea Shepherd
UPDATE: PRIMARY Industries Minister Niall Blair has disputed Sea Shepherd's claims that the newly deployed smart drum lines pose a safety hazard to boaties.
"Smart drumlines are only deployed during day light hours and pose no boating hazard as they are not in a navigational area and are highly visible," A spokesperson for the Primary Industries Minister said.
"NSW Roads and Maritime Services and Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue are informed daily of the location of the smart drumlines.
"There are no requirements for the notification of the deployment of fishing gear and associated surface buoys of this nature."
ORIGINAL: A LACK of information over the location of new shark listening stations and smart drum lines is putting boaties at risk, Sea Shepherd Australia has said.
There are now two smart drum lines on the North Coast: one off Sharpes Beach at Skennars Head and one off Lighthouse Beach at Ballina.
Sea Shepherd Australia national shark campaign coordinator Natalie Banks said even Marine Rescue Ballina had not been informed of their positions and therefore could not inform boaties of the navigational hazards.
"It is absolutely ludicrous to have new buoys and lines in the water and just expect boaties to avoid them when they accidently come upon them," she said.
"The New South Wales Government is putting the lives of boaties at risk, which could see a lot of mariners up in arms about the lack of information regarding these navigational hazards.
There has also been confusion over the timing of the installation of eco shark barriers at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina and Lennox Head main beach.
Initially, they were scheduled to be installed around Christmas, before the start of the New Year.
However, Ballina Mayor David Wright this week confirmed the eco nets would not be installed and fully functional before February.
"I've been talking to the people who wrote the contract and it's very, very complicated to get the contract.
"They're looking at a three year lease for the product, most likely, but the manufacturer is trying to put it together at the moment.
"I really thought that the nets would be ready by mid-January but talking to the manufacturer, it's going to take longer than they thought."
Cr Wright said he would be asking for more helicopter patrols in the meantime to help protect surfers and swimmers over summer.
He said tourism through the town seemed unaffected by the shark problem so far, however caravan and camping sites were suffering.