Ballina MP Tamara Smith.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith. Cathy Adams

North Coast ‘cool, calm and collected’ despite shark attacks

THE NORTH Coast community has been commended for keeping level headed amid occasionally hysterical responses to a surge in shark attacks.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith paid tribute in parliament to volunteers such as Gary Meredith from Ballina Jet Boat Rescue.

"As part of the local response protocol, (he) leaves his place of work to head to the beach to put up signs and alert those in the water of a shark presence," she said.

"(Then there is) the off-duty nurse who saved the life of Sam Morgan after he was bitten at Lighthouse Beach last week, and the Ballina shire mayor David Wright, who has paid thousands of dollars of his own money for aerial patrols."

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Ms Smith conceded fears of more attacks were warranted, but said the community response had been "cool, calm and collected around this issue, beyond the hysteria perpetuated by many front pages of metropolitan media".

"This issue has rocked my community. Its psyche has been affected," she said.

"Last night I spoke to some very concerned people who are worried about their children surfing over the summer school holidays.

"They asked me what they should do.

"I gave some recommendations but I had to answer them honestly that no one thing is going to keep their kids or ocean users safe.

"However, trialling non-lethal strategies for shark mitigation over the next 18 months will give us a way forward.

"That may not be clever politics on my part, but facing the problems as a community honestly and without sugar coating is the right thing to do."

The government has committed $16 million over five years to keep the state's swimmers, surfers and boaters safe from sharks.

The strategy includes a $7.7 million trial of new technologies and coastal surveillance and $1.3 million for research and to expand an existing shark tagging program. -APN NEWSDESK


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