Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith and Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson today announced $11,000 in funding for a shark spotting program by Shark Watch to start in Byron Shire.
The announcement came as Shark Watch gave a demonstration at Cosy Corner at the northern end of Tallows Beach, Byron Bay of how their shark spotting patrol and drone works
Shark Watch is a community group which uses volunteers and a drone to scan the sea near surfers and swimmers at beaches for any shark activity. If sharks are spotted, the group uses an agreed alert system to warn people in the area that sharks are present, so that surfers and swimmers can leave the water.
“I am enormously encouraged to see that Byron Shire will fund Shark Watch to operate at its beaches, providing a greater level of safety to surfers and swimmers while not endangering marine life,” said Tamara Smith.
“Byron Shire Council is proud to support the non-lethal shark detection program run by Shark Watch and I congratulate the volunteers for being so professional and organised. It is also great to see them able to provide this service in time for the holiday season,” said Mayor Simon Richardson.
“It was also pleasing yesterday to gain in principle support from the Department of Primary Industries-Fisheries for the community initiative and we’re keen to see Shark Watch become part of the NSW shark management strategy.
“Working within state-wide protocols and management systems and alongside state wide organisations, will allow this community initiative to grow across the State and support ongoing education programs.
“The program will run in conjunction with our highly valued Surf Life Saving patrols and bring new technology and surveillance training to our beaches.
“The community looking after the community is the best outcome and the Shark Watch program can make this happen,” Mayor Richardson said.
NSW Shark Watch committee member, Jann Gilbert, said volunteers were very excited about the announcement and looked forward to being able to start regular patrols in time for the 2016-17 holiday season.
“This is a great step forward in the search for alternative methods of shark detection and management.”
“We're extremely grateful to Byron Shire Council and local MP Tamara Smith for stepping up to support the first Shark Watch crew in Australia,” said Jann Gilbert.
Byron Shire Council will be liaising with Cape Byron Marine Park and National Parks and Wildlife Service to help to enable the program in Byron Shire.
“The community initiated and sustained program will support ongoing education programs and see the results shared with the Department of Primary Industries,” said Mayor Richardson.
“Working alongside the Department of Primary Industries, our Shire is also keen to see this become part of the NSW shark management strategy,” he said.
Location of the Shark Watch spotters will move around beaches within Byron Shire dependent on sea and wind conditions.