In a partnership between Sea Shepherd, Byron Shire Council and Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MLA, a feasibility study for shark spotting will take place at Wategos Beach.
The trial will be carried out by members of Sea Shepherd and will determine whether the location and spotting abilities at Wategos Beach are suitable for a longer term shark spotting program, paying attention to the impact of morning and afternoon glare, spotting distance from water, changes in visibility in differing weather conditions and levels of water user activity at different times of the day.
Funding for the trial is being provided equally by Tamara Smith and Byron Shire Council.
Ms Smith, the NSW Greens spokesperson for Marine and Fisheries and a member of the government's recent Shark Inquiry said, "The Cardno Review recommended shark spotting as the best response to shark encounters and an ideal non-lethal shark mitigation strategy yet the government has not explored it as an option in NSW."
"I was lucky to hang out with the Shark Spotters from Cape Town a few months ago and I was incredibly impressed by their 13 year track record of safety for ocean users in Cape Town."
"I am also very persuaded that paid, professional shark spotters are intrinsic to the program."
"I am thrilled to partner with Sea Shepherd and Byron Shire Council to fund a feasibility study at Wategos."
Developed by Sea Shepherd, the trial responds to the State Government's independent assessment of current shark mitigation strategies undertaken by the Cardno Review. This assessment identified a Shark Spotting program, currently used in Cape Town, South Africa as the highest ranked solution. The program was the only one that met eight assessment criteria including; a whole-of-beach solution, poses no risks to humans or wildlife, would be suitable for NSW beaches, has been tested on white sharks (and a variety of other shark species), has been peer reviewed, and the costs for the program are low.
The scoping study proposes to provide independent feedback on the abilities and limitations of a more permanent Shark Spotting program at this location.