Shaws Bay at its tranquil best.
Shaws Bay at its tranquil best.

Shaws Bay’s fish need a little TLC

A DRAFT management plan for Shaws Bay doesn't recommend a ban on fishing in the Ballina waterway, but does identify opportunities for increasing community awareness about fishing regulations.

Ballina consulting firm Hydrosphere Consulting was commissioned by Ballina Shire Council to produce the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan for Shaws Bay, which is now on public exhibition.

In February this year, just before work was to begin on the draft plan, East Ballina woman Jan Brady called for fishing in the bay to be banned - or as a minimum, more signage on the fish species in the bay be installed - after claiming that a protected estuary cod was killed by fishers.

Local man, Eric Strong, reacted by saying the bay provided a safe place for families and elderly people to enjoy angling.

The report identifies 'an opportunity for additional community education about recreational fishing best practice, regulations, bag limits, size restrictions and threatened species', particularly through signage and education programs like Fishcare.

The draft plan also looks at opportunities for improved car parking on the western side of the bay and the potential for increased car parking in Pop Denison Park, improvements to the steps on the southern bank - with the potential inclusion of a floating pontoon - and maintenance of the sandy shores around the bay.

Regular swimmers in the bay would know about the irritants, but the plan identifies the potential for increased community awareness of those irritants, including sea lice and swimmer's itch which is a type of non-infectious dermatitis contracted from within the marine environment. The plan also notes the potential for 'chemical and physical controls' of those irritants.

Mick Howland, the general manager of Hydrosphere Consulting, said 'council is very keen to ensure this plan meets public needs and we are now requesting feedback on the proposed management approach'.

"The plan has been developed to achieve this goal and address a range of current and identified future management issues," he said.

Council's acting section manager for public and environmental health, Kerri Watts said: "The community interest in the future management of Shaws Bay has been fantastic and the community perceptions and aspirations for the Bay have been used to develop the management plan." A community drop-in session about the draft plan will be held at the Ballina Surf Club on September 18, between 4pm to 6pm, with a presentation at 5pm.

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