Australian Coastal Councils Association Inc.

28 September 2015: Australia’s coastal councils have called on the Turnbull Government to lead a national collaborative effort to reduce the risk of shark attacks.

Barry Sammels, the Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said there is an urgent need to identify effective strategies to reduce death and injury from shark attack and to restore tourism activity in Australia’s coastal areas to normal levels.

“With the approach of summer many coastal councils are concerned at the current downturn in visitor numbers as a result of shark-related incidents,” he said.

“The spate of recent attacks along the NSW north coast has had a significant effect on communities in the area which rely heavily on tourism to support local economies and employment.

“Some councils are cutting back on other services to pay for aerial patrols, but this is not sustainable given the high costs involved. These communities need help.”

Barry Sammels said there is a need for a collaborative national approach involving all three levels of government to devise strategies to minimise the threat of attack and to reduce the impact on local communities and the national economy.

“Coastal tourism makes an enormous contribution to the national economy,” he said. “Each year international tourists contribute at least $30 billion to the Australian economy while domestic tourism generates a further $53 billion in revenues.

“Our coast is one of the strongest attractions for international and domestic visitors. But if we fail to take effective action to reduce the threat of shark attack there is likely to be a major impact on regional and national economies.

“NSW, Western Australia and Queensland have existing shark control programs in place, which include netting, drum lines, aerial surveillance and beach patrols. There are also emerging technologies such as underwater shark barriers and the use of drones.

“But there is a lack of consistency about the measures used and a lack of guidance on the most effective strategies available.”

Barry Sammels said recent shark attacks have occurred in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. “This is a national community safety and economic issue that requires a national strategy to deal with it effectively,” he said.

“The Federal Government is best placed to lead development of a collaborative national strategy. It has access to resources including the best scientific advice and it collects 81% of all taxation revenues, compared to just 3.4% collected by local councils.

“All of the mitigation measures currently available are expensive and local councils simply do not have sufficient funds to cover the cost.”

More information: – Alan Stokes, Mob: 0411 592 269

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