The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP
Minister for Primary Industries
Minister for Small Business

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday, 17 February 2012

OBSERVATION TOWER GRANTS FOR LOCAL BEACHES

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson and Member for Wyong, Darren Webber today announced that two local beaches, Lakes Beach and Soldiers Beach will receive NSW Government funding for observation towers to improve swimmer safety.

“Wyong Shire Council will receive a $3000 grant for each beach to build towers, which is great news for the local community and beach users in particular,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“During the lead up to the election the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government committed to providing $30,000 per year to improve beach safety through the development of observation towers on beaches or beach headlands for effective shark spotting.

“The NSW Government is now delivering on this commitment and four grants will be provided as part of the Observation Tower Grant Funding Program for 2011-12.

“Other areas to benefit from this program include Port Stephens and Hawks Nest and the observation towers will be useful in these areas not only for spotting sharks but sighting people in distress and offering a clear line of vision when there is a big swell,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

Mr Webber said the funding is an extension of the NSW Government’s Bather Protection program which aims to help provide a safer environment for swimmers and surfers during summer.

“I welcome these grants and there is no question that the funding will improve visibility of the beach and ocean for life guards,” Mr Webber said.

“Swimmers and surfers enjoying local beaches should take a few simple precautions to limit the risk of shark attack at our beaches.”

Ms Hodgkinson said SharkSmart is the State’s first public education campaign designed to inform beach goers about how they can reduce their risk of an encounter with a shark.

“One of the simplest safety routines for people to follow is to only swim at patrolled beaches and tostay between the flags.”

SharkSmart tips include:

  • Don’t swim too far from shore and swim in groups
  • Avoid swimming and surfing when it’s dark or during twilight hours and avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage as well as swimming in canals, and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths
  • Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers and areas with signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity – diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity
  • Do not rely on sightings of dolphins to indicate the absence of sharks as both often feed together on the same food. Do not swim/surf near or interfere with shark nets
  • Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs

 Source: NSW Department of Primary Industries