EVANS Head surfer Craig Ison remained in a serious but stable condition at Lismore Base Hospital last night after being attacked by a great white shark yesterday morning.

Mr Ison, 52, suffered a bite to his thigh and to his hand, sustained as he fought the shark off by repeatedly punching it,  100m off Main Beach at Evans Head.

His best friend, Tom Augustine, said he was in a serious but stable condition, despite "complications".

"We don't think he will lose his arm or leg," he said.

Mr Ison was surfing with his friend Geoff Hill about 6am when he was attacked.

Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, said it was the quick thinking of a passerby and Mr Hill that saved Mr Ison's life.

"With the help of that other surfer (Mr Hill) and the passerby they were able to render first aid at the scene, particularly putting a tourniquet on his injuries," Det Insp Lindsay said.

Craig Ison
Craig Ison Contributed

"Those people are to be praised for their quick thinking ... they applied the tourniquet using leg ropes from the surfboard."

Main Beach, Shark Bay and Chinamans Beach were closed for 24 hours. Their closure was due to be reassessed around 6.30am today.

Yesterday's attack comes after two shark attacks in July, including one which badly injured Ballina man Mathew Lee, who had been bodyboarding at Speeds Reef, between Lighthouse and Shelly beaches at Ballina.

Since then authorities have been working to come up with a shark strategy.

Ballina Mayor David Wright said plans were underway for an aerial surveillance trial, backed by the State Government.

"We can't prevent attacks but we believe having planes and helicopters to monitor the beaches will help," he said. "We're doing everything we possibly can do ... great white sharks are protected; even to tag it you have to ask for special licences."

Richmond Valley Council mayor Ernie Bennett heard there had been a number of unreported sightings in the Evans Head area.

"It's been very interesting talking to people here at Evans Head this morning about sighting a number of sharks off the main headlands," he said.

"There's also been a discussion with others from Chinamans (Beach) about how they've had sightings over there but I haven't heard it reported, so I guess it's a bit of lack of communication.

"We do things in life that have risks involved ... I wouldn't tell people never to go surfing again, it's all about assessing the situation and making their own decisions."

Det Insp Lindsay said people needed to be vigilant. .

"Watch for beach signs; if police attending the beach ask you to remove yourself from the water, we're really asking people to be vigilant and take notice of any messages," he said.