With the number of recent shark attacks beginning to pile up along Australia’s east coast, beach businesses and tourism in NSW are starting to feel the effects.
Several Aussie beaches remain closed after a body boarder suffered life-threatening injuries from a shark attack at Port Macquarie, just off the coast of Lighthouse Beach and 400 kilometres north of Sydney.
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This comes less than a month after a 52-year-old surfer was seriously injured after being bitten at Evans Head, which is about 350 kilometres north of Lighthouse Beach.
Earlier this year at Evans Head, one surfer died after his legs were ripped off during an attack, while another survived despite having his legs shredded.
Authorities have taken note of the recent attacks, who have decided to increase their monitoring and tagging of sharks off the coast with the prosperous summer season looming.
A surf shop owner in the NSW Northern Rivers town of Ballina recently said his surfing accessories sales have fallen 80 per cent, while schools offering surfing lessons have felt the loss of thousands of dollars.
In all, there have been 22 shark sightings and three serious attacks recently in Ballina. Lennox-Ballina Boardriders Club president Don Munro described it as an “unprecedented crisis,” while Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright acknowledged Lennox Head may get hit the worst amid all the attacks.
“A lot of restaurants there aren’t getting the normal people coming along,” he said. “These shark attacks are coming in waist-deep water sometimes. It’s a bit scary.”
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While Wright said tourism numbers haven’t yet been affected by the recent attacks, those in the industry are bracing themselves for the worst.
Christmas time usually thousands to the warm pacific waters of NSW, but that may be about to change. With people staying out of the water, residents and businesses are looking for answers to save their pockets—and lives.
And there’s also a larger issue. With the number of shark attacks on the rise, the debate has resumed on whether there should be a reduction of numbers by killing, or culling, sharks.
However, the animal rights group ‘No NSW Shark Cull’ has emphatically stated that it is morally wrong to cull sharks, as humans realise the risk involved when they get into the water.
“If people choose to recreate in the ocean knowing full well the risks associated with it, it is morally wrong for us to then kill these wild animals when they mistake people for their natural food,” the group said in a statement.
Although new technology such as electronic shields or plastic barriers to protect swimmers may soon be used, it could still take several months to be fully tested and permanently implemented.
Going to the beach will still be a fun, safe activity this summer. But actually getting into the water for surfing and other water sports may be another story.