Call sent out for Surfing Premier Mike Baird and PM Abbott to address issue
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 31 July, 2015 - Following yet another serious shark attack on a surfer earlier today at Evans Head (NSW) the ‘surfing’ Premier of NSW, Hon. Mike Baird, has been called upon to make a statement as to how his government intends to address the ever increasing bloody attacks on surfers on beaches.
“What is Mr Baird doing to protect the lives of surfers?” Brad Farmer of National Surfing Reserves asked today.
While most surfers rejected WA Premier Colin Barnett’s ‘kill order’ of the protected Great White Shark, surfers are seeking intervention, where possible, to reduce or be warned about the presence of large man-eating species of sharks.
“The argument that the beach is the sharks’ territory is flawed,” said Mr Farmer. “Humans by nature are ocean swimmers also.”
Mr Farmer believes it is time for a national strategy to reduce shark attacks across Australia and to declare waters as ‘safe’. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is also a surfer from Manly and should be involved, as 90% of Australians live on the coast and many, including tourists, enter the waters for recreation.
Brad Farmer has called for preventative measures and government funding for scientific research as the number of fatal and near fatal attacks frighten beachgoers after the most recent near fatal attack.
“I believe CSIRO should convene an Australia wide Round Table of stakeholders to examine what can be done ASAP.”
Surfers on body boards and short boards are consistently the victims of fatal and near fatal attacks.
The founder of National Surfing Reserves, Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Care Day has urged the government, Police and Fisheries to change their approach from simply hunting and culling the shark to more sophisticated research and prevention strategies to ensure the safety of all Australian beach goers.
NSW, West and South Australia in particular need a focussed, collaborative and an urgent strategy to address communications with the public about the presence and dangers of entering the water where large sharks are present. Australia along with South Africa, California and Brazil need to work together to come up with innovative solutions to reduce fatalities among surfers and ocean swimmers.
“At the very least, there needs to be some form of GPS early warning/alert system ‘app’ in place before attacks happen, then surfers can make their own judgement about entering the water.
“This is a national safety issue which not only threatens beachgoers everywhere but may potentially impact on tourism, particularly at shark attack hot spots including the high value 19 National Surfing Reserves,” Mr Farmer said.
The popularity of surfing has significantly increased in recent years, seeing thousands of younger Australians and tourists from across the world wanting to surf Australia’s famous waves, largely along the 900km coastal stretch from the Gold Coast to Sydney known as the Pacific Coast.
Since federal legislation was introduced in the mid 90’s to protect six of the most vulnerable species of sharks including the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias) attacks have increased along with the population of the species.
Mr Farmer said most attacks were on surfers (mostly on short boards, not long boards) followed by spearfisherman and swimmers. He said that approx. 70% of regular surfers were in favour of shark conservation.