The NSW DPI and local government have began installation of a shark eco-barrier across Lighthouse Beach in Ballina. This shark eco-barrier will run directly through local surfers most utilised resource – Lighthouse Beach’s prized surf break. The shark eco-barrier was protested against early this year by the community, including around 150 surfers, who see the barrier not only as a threat to their waves but safety as well. Surfrider Foundation along with other local surfers raised these important concerns at the meeting about risk assessment and safety of surfer. Furthermore, the NSW DPI recently admitted that the eco-barriers are a hazard for swimmers and surfers. But despite all of this, our voice has continued to fall on deaf ears.
Injustice for surfers should not be repeated
The approach taken by the NSW Government and Ballina Shire Council to deny surfers a voice in relation to the plastic shark barrier project at Lighthouse Beach should never be repeated.
“Local surfers and ocean enthusiasts have responded to the injustice by establishing a branch of the Surfrider Foundation Australia” said Mark Hernage, President of the Foundation’s new Ballina – Lennox Head Branch.
The Foundation is an international, not for profit community organisation dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans waves and beaches through Conservation, Activism, Research and Education (C.A.R.E).
Mr Hernage said “it is a global movement of surfers and ocean enthusiasts to stand up for their coasts and local marine environments. Today, the Surfrider Foundation is active in 18 countries around the world”.
Key policies of the Foundation in Australia are in the areas of:
- Coastal development and biodiversity conservation
- Beach and foreshore access
- Shark control
- Terrestrial and offshore sand mining and dredging
- Coal seam gas exploration and exploitation in the coastal zone
- Personal water craft and tow surfing
- Environmental release of effluent
- Coastal process intervention
- Surfing reserves
- Climate change
Mr Hernage commented that the Minister for Planning said in Parliament when new coastal management legislation was presented that surfers' knowledge of coastal issues demonstrated how significant the surfers were in contributing to our understanding of coastal resources. He said that a compelling submission by the Surfrider Foundation Australia and its advocacy had improved the legislation.
After 25 years of operation in Australia, Surfrider has proven to be a valuable and significant ‘ear' for government and ‘voice' for coast lovers, be they surfers or other beach users, adding great value to the complex decision making process required in this heavily contested area of land and water management.
“The Foundation has formally sought the agreement of the NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Ballina Council that it will be consulted in respect of any project, policy or legislative consideration being considered by the Government that directly relates to the community’s access to and use of coastal resources in the Ballina Shire”, Mr Hernage added.
Anyone wishing to find out more about the Surfrider Foundation Ballina Branch and are interested on being actively involved in its operations should contact Mark Hernage on 0401290147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.