OPINION: Councils need to lead on shark crisis

THE Lennox Head based NSW upper house member Catherine Cusack has linked the issue of council amalgamations to the way the four affected North Coast councils are handling the current shark crisis.

If you read her letter here, it probably falls into the "harsh but fair" category.

She's right when she says that sharks know no boundaries.

And even though there have been very serious attacks or close encounters in each of those four shires (Tweed, Byron, Ballina and Richmond Valley) it has largely been left up to Ballina and its mayor David Wright to do much of the running on this issue.

Cusack is justified in questioning why councils who vehemently oppose amalgamations can't work together on an issue as important as this.

"The shark issue is a big opportunity to demonstrate they can do this - show us that having four separate coastal councils is delivering the strongest possible messages and the best management of the issue in the interests of surfers, ratepayers and the businesses whose capacity to employ is the lynchpin of our social wellbeing."

Following the attack on surfer Craig Ison off Evans Head a few weeks ago I did hear Richmond Valley mayor Ernie Bennett say on radio that he would be sending council officers along to all the meetings Ballina was having on the current crisis.

The question must be asked - sharks have been roaming our oceans for millions of years, why now are we playing catch-up on how to protect ourselves from them?

Much hope has been pinned on the Department of Primary Industries' team that started work in our area this week.

Let's hope we have some solutions - soon.