Al­ways a risk when en­joy­ing our wa­ter­ways

South Western Times - - News - Billy Kerr

The on­go­ing de­bate sur­round­ing the po­ten­tial haz­ards of big sharks at­tack­ing surfers shows no signs of abating. With the warmer weather on our doorstep the po­ten­tial of at­tacks is di­rectly pro­por­tional to the in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple who will be in the wa­ter in the com­ing months.

While this par­tic­u­lar de­bate is all to do with self-preser­va­tion, it also cen­tres on the de­vices and ap­pa­ra­tus avail­able to stop or at least limit the abil­ity of sharks to at­tack swim­mers and surfers. While the de­bate has been go­ing on for some time, there is no doubt the de­ci­sion-mak­ers are lis­ten­ing and with the in­crease in the amount of equip­ment avail­able to keep the sharks at bay, they are sub­sid­ing per­sonal shark re­pel­lent de­vices for surf­boards and pro­grams such as the in­stal­la­tion tri­alling of drum lines on our coast.

The truth is there is a risk el­e­ment to ev­ery­thing we do and ul­ti­mately we have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our ac­tions. It’s all about as­sess­ing the risk and then not only re­spond­ing to that risk level as­sess­ment but then ac­cept­ing the con­se­quences should that as­sess­ment fail.

Blokes go and work un­der­ground driv­ing Haul Packs and blow­ing up large amount of rocks with ex­plo­sives and while they ad­here to very strict safety stan­dards, some­times these peo­ple do not come out of the hole alive.

Oldies on go­phers are some of the big­gest risk tak­ers of all as they take their chances on busy streets astride their flimsy char­i­ots but you don’t hear them scream­ing out for a gov­ern­ment sub­sidy to out­fit their go­phers with bull bars, flash­ing lights and sirens. And what about the fish­ing spot at Salmon Holes in Al­bany? It knocks peo­ple off with alarm­ing reg­u­lar­ity but an­gler­sjust shrug their shoul­ders and keep on fish­ing there.

We are in­stinc­tively risk tak­ers in this coun­try and that’s why our fore­bears put up their hands to go to Gal­lipoli, to take on the harsh­ness of the Kokoda Trail and to fight the bat­tles of the Co­ral Sea and Bal­moral in Viet­nam.

These boys and girls knew the risks they were tak­ing and knew that some would not come home and they took their risk-tak­ing to a level that no surf­ing jock will ever un­der­stand.

Play­ing in the shark do­main is fraught with dan­ger but that’s part of the thrill and short of catch­ing and killing ev­ery shark in the ocean, I am afraid the surfers and the swim­mers are just go­ing to have to toughen up a bit.

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