Ballina Shark Reports Facebook page closes down

THE FOUNDER of the Ballina Shark Reports Facebook page which offered instant posts about shark sightings and encounters said he closed the page after picking up a vibe that local businesses felt it was bad for the Ballina economy.

The page had only been open for five weeks until it closed on Wednesday morning.

East Ballina resident Dan Webber said he didn't want to be accused of "scaring people away" by drawing negative attention to Ballina.

The avid surfer said his conversations with some locals about the service weren't heated, but it was "pretty obvious" that people didn't like the page.

"I started to get a sense from businesses in the area that it was fanning the flames," Mr Webber said.

"It was pretty consistent.

"So long as I could be blamed for causing a downturn in tourism, I had to let it go."

Mr Webber also said people were "abusing" the purpose of the page by engaging in heated debates about shark culling, with only few using it for its intended purpose.

"There were some people using it in the way it was intended but part of the problem was how many people were just using it for conversation," Mr Webber said.

"It was definitely being overrun by people just wanting to have a gripe about culling.

"People were getting off on the topic rather than the actual service."

Mr Webber decided to create the page following his experience surfing Lighthouse Beach on the day of the shark attack on Ballina's Mat Lee and not being called out of the water for 20 minutes after the attack despite being just 150m away.

He wanted a way for people to instantly share shark sightings with other people.

"When you get out of the surf having seen a shark, you want to be able to tell someone," Mr Webber said.

"It's not a good thought to go home thinking someone might be attacked by the shark you saw 20 minutes ago."

But he felt that many surfers didn't use the page because it would put them in the wrong frame of mind for surfing. In fact he had not surfed for three weeks, because running the page had put him off surfing

"It's really hard to have sharks on the mind and go surfing; the two just don't go together."