I FEEL sorry for the man who got up in front of 200 people at the shark information forum at Lennox Head on Friday night and said he was a surfer but no longer goes into the water.
And I feel sorry for other locals who feel threatened by sharks in the ocean, and were upset by the inability of the Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair and other members of the panel to come up with an immediate solution to the recent spate of attacks and incidents on the North Coast.
Of course, there is a solution, and that is the one chosen by the man who no longer goes surfing: stay out of the water.
If you are so fearful of sharks, you can always take up lawn bowls or croquet.
Or spend quality time at the Lennox pub.
While some may choose this option, it was heartening to see so many surfers out the next day enjoying ideal surf conditions between Lennox and Ballina.
Of course when the swell is up, you can't keep a real surfer out of the water.
Just look at the packed carparks, especially at Lennox headland.
On those days if you've got a blocked toilet, you'll just have to wait. Your friendly neighbourhood plumber will be out surfing with his other tradie mates, undeterred (pun intended) by the presence of any sharks.
As for the impact on local businesses, I work in real estate in Ballina and I have never seen so many people from all over the country wanting to live in this area. So many buyers, so few people wanting to sell.
My real fear is not of sharks, but of the sensationalist tabloid media.
The Sydney Terrorgraph outdid itself in scaremongering terminology, last week describing our beaches as a "feasting ground for sharks".
Of course The Northern Star is to be commended for its largely responsible coverage of the issue.
-ANDREW NIEUWENHOF, Lennox Head.