Sunday, July 16, 2006

Warning signs wanted on South Australian beaches

Shark information signs will be erected at all great white shark hot spots along the South Australian coastline if two Port Lincoln women get their wish.

The two women, Katrina Wright and Kaylene Dufek, originally sent out petitions asking people to support the idea of shark signage, informing locals and tourists alike, of the dangers that could lurk in local waters.After hundreds of people signed the petition, the Port Lincoln City Council got behind the idea and shark information signs were erected in various locations along the Port Lincoln foreshore.

Katrina Wright and Kaylene Dufek hope that other seaside councils follow Port Lincoln’s lead and put up signs along their coastal regions. They’ve written to other councils on the Eyre Peninsula, with the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula already following their lead.Michael Wandel, chair of the Elliston District Council, said council’s open to the idea. “At Elliston we leave it to the people who swim or surf there. It's their responsibility.

We can always look at it, there's no harm in council putting in place warning signs - I believe it's the only way that the public will know that these areas can be unsafe,” he explained.“We've got some of the most sought-after surfing beaches in Australia,” said Mr Wandel. “I've met people on the beachfront who’ve come from overseas. They hear about it on their travels and they look into Elliston and I think, well maybe, the warning signs should be put there,” he said.

But Rob Gregor, chief executive officer of the larger Elliston District Council, says shark-specific signs aren’t necessary because council has bought all-purpose camping information signs that will double as a warning against a number of natural hazards. “We've taken a cautionary approach of (erecting) very simple, non-elaborate warnings of the natural risks (see left) and sharks are just one of those. We are talking about overhanging cliffs, roadways and things like that on the pictograms,” he explained.The CEO said it's not normal practice for councils to warn the public about natural risks but council decided that multi-purpose signs are necessary.

“The issues we face with this type of approach: A - there isn't a standard practice and B, councils have little or absolutely no control in many cases of the natural risks that exist in these places,” he explained.Katrina Wright and Kaylene Dufek have also drawn on Adelaide’s Holdfast Bay City Council (Glenelg) for ideas and interest. They suggested adopting Glenelg’s use of a large shark net, to prevent sharks entering Boston Bay, but Port Lincoln Council baulked, saying it would be too expensive. The two women are now working with local police on a uniform shark warning system.


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