Our surf lifesavers are crucial in protecting beachgoers. This picture is of a Jetski herding a 3.5m White Shark out to sea off Cape Byron on Thursday, December 28, 2016. Picture: TWITTER/@SharkSmart
Our surf lifesavers are crucial in protecting beachgoers. This picture is of a Jetski herding a 3.5m White Shark out to sea off Cape Byron on Thursday, December 28, 2016. Picture: TWITTER/@SharkSmart

Fatal shark attack prompts plea for drone patrols

A SHARK attack in Kingscliff which ended in tragedy on Sunday has prompted calls for the weekend lifesaving service to continue through the winter months on the North Coast.

More can be done to safeguard surfers from sharks, according to Ballina Mayor David Wright.

>>> Family's tribute to 'all-round legend' shark attack victim

"I think what happened on Sunday was enough to remind everyone there have been no protections for surfers in our waters," Cr Wright said.

"I will be asking for lifeguards on every beach, every weekend.

"We've had about 500 surfers in the water in Ballina each weekend with no protection."

The vision is to have lifeguards operate drones which detect sharks, scare them out to sea, and alert surfers to their presence.

"The drones are so good, we have all the footage being captured, we know straight away what type of sharks there are and how big they are," Cr Wright said.

The Department of Primary Industries continues to deploy SMART drumlines off the coast of Ballina, but the government is yet to renew the trial, which officially ended on March 31.

This program allows fisheries to catch, tag and release sharks, and alerts the public when they come close to our shores.

The DPI helicopters have stopped flying over NSW beaches.

Cr Wright has been working behind the scenes with council's Civil Services group manager John Truman to ensure funding for these essential services continue.

"I really have been fighting for this," Cr Wright said.

"The state government can't afford to decrease the amount of surveillance we have.

"I'm hoping the new agreement that comes out over the next few weeks will continue aerial patrols over summer and keep drumlines and drones in operation."

Cr Wright only had one criticism of recent state government shark deterrence strategies.

"SharkSmart information doesn't get out to surfers in the water," Cr Wright said.

"There's a siren on the drone. That could be used. Or we could activate a flashing light on shore."



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