Patrolling surf lifesaver and Tweed Shire councillor James Owen hosted a stakeholder meeting this month
Patrolling surf lifesaver and Tweed Shire councillor James Owen hosted a stakeholder meeting this month

Shark attack survivor address community in mitigation talks

TWEED surf clubs and boardriders are working on upping shark surveillance at the shire's beaches as residents think twice about hitting the water after two fatal attacks.

Patrolling surf lifesaver and Tweed Shire councillor James Owen hosted a stakeholder meeting this month and said: "There's a feeling out there that not enough is being done to keep our beachgoers safe from shark attacks."

He spoke of the fatal mauling of Tugun surfer Rob Pedretti by a great white at Salt Beach near Kingscliff on June 7.

Mr Pedretti's death was followed by another great white attack that took the life of Miami surfer Nick Slater at Greenmount on September 8 - the first fatal mauling on a city beach in more than 60 years.

"The Salt attack shocked our close-knit, beach-loving community and there is still a real sense of fear and uncertainty about going into the water along the Tweed Shire's 36km of coastline," Cr Owen said.

"We need to do whatever we can to give people the confidence to enjoy the ocean, knowing that as much as possible is being done to keep them safe."

The meeting came after Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Tweed Shire Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes called for SMART drum lines and more drones to be rolled out at the shire's unprotected beaches as soon as possible.

Mr Provest said in early October new SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drum lines and shark-spotting drones would be confirmed for the Tweed in the NSW budget on November 17.

"One of the key messages from the meeting was that significantly more funding is needed from the state government to help deliver more shark mitigation measures," Cr Owen said.

"I'm calling on the NSW Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall MP, and the state government, to provide more funding for shark mitigation measures in the Tweed Shire.

"I'd like to thank all those who attended the meeting for their commitment and passion in keeping our community safe. I look forward to working with them on practical solutions to achieve this, and to ensure the state government understands what is needed to do so."

Meeting attendees included representatives from Salt, Cudgen, Fingal, and Cabarita surf lifesaving clubs and Cabarita, Kingscliff and Snapper Rocks boardriders. Other attendees were Juraki Surf Culture, In2Surf Surf School, the Australian Lifeguard Service, the Surf Life Saving Far North Coast Branch and Cr Reece Byrnes.

Attendees heard from surfer and surf photographer Dean James about community concerns, and from shark attack survivor Christian Bungate, who described being knocked off his board by a shark at Cabarita Beach on September 16.

The formation of a working group was planned to discuss ways surf and boardrider clubs can work together to provide surveillance during busy times and during events. 



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