NSR founder urges government, police & fisheries to use new tech
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 July, 2015 Lennox Head - A leading beach expert has warned there will be an increase in shark attacks off Australian coastal waters. Brad Farmer has called for preventative measures and increased funding for scientific research as the number of fatal and near fatal attacks frighten beachgoers after the most recent near attack by a 4m Great White Shark at Lennox Head National Surfing Reserve four days ago.
“Surfers on body boards and short boards are consistently the victims of attacks,” Farmer said today from Ballina, where five days ago a serious near critical attack took place in the inshore surfing zone.
The founder of National Surfing Reserves 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 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 around. Australia, along with South Africa, California and Brazil, need to work together to come up with innovative solutions to reduce fatalities among surfers.
“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 may involve a process of ‘tagging’ large sharks.
“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 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, primarily along the 900km coastal stretch from the Gold Coast to Sydney.
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.