Coastal risk officers will next week start examining the Shoalhaven’s 160 kilometres of coastline in an effort to stem the tide of drownings in the region.
Four people have already drowned in local waters this year, well up on the 10-year average of 1.3 during the same time.
“Each year, many lives are lost along our coastline, leaving families devastated and communities in shock,” said Surf Life Saving NSW coastal risk manager Adam Weir.
“Our goal is to reduce drowning deaths by 50 percent within the next decade.”
Surf Life Saving NSW’s Project Blueprint aims to help reduce coastal drowning deaths by assessing every beach and rock platform in NSW over the next few years
Mr Weir said while the scope of the project was daunting, the information was vital to providing water safety agencies with an effective strategy to reduce the coastal drowning toll.
Through the NSW Water Safety Black Spot Fund, Surf Life Saving NSW is using the expertise of Australian Coastsafe, a wholly-owned business unit of Surf Life Saving Australia, to complete the project.
From March 10 to April 11, Surf Life Saving NSW coastal risk officers will assess the Shoalhaven’s coastline extending from Seven Mile Beach to the north to Durras North Beach in the south including national parks in the Shoalhaven local government area.
Mr Weir said 17 people had drowned on Shoalhaven beaches since 2004 including four in 2014.
“While the incidents have been varied in 2014, over time the vast majority are people caught in rip currents while swimming, or swept from rocks while fishing and almost all occur at unpatrolled locations or outside patrol hours,” he said.
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said council supported Surf Life Saving NSW’s Project Blueprint.
“With 160 kilometres of coastline, Shoalhaven City is home to some of the most scenic beaches and waterways in the state,” Cr Gash said.
“Project Blueprint is a fantastic initiative aimed at identifying any foreseeable risks and hazards along our area’s coastline as well as implementable safety mitigation measures.
“This project has the potential to make an immeasurable impact on the safety of beachgoers within the Shoalhaven.
“Surf Life Saving NSW will be engaging with members of the general public throughout the assessment process and I would certainly encourage all interested residents and regular water users to attend the upcoming public information sessions and have their say on the area’s coastline,” Cr Gash said.
National Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Diane Garrood also offered her support to the project.
“The National Parks and Wildlife Service is looking forward to supporting Surf Life Saving NSW in their efforts to improve safety on local beaches,” she said.
“It is good to see expertise being shared across agencies,” Ms Garrood said.
Local residents are invited to attend a consultation forum at the Mollymook Surf Club at 6.30pm on Wednesday, March 26, to have input, ask questions and make suggestions for the local area.
For more information on Project Blueprint and to find out how to be part of the consultation process, visit www.coastsafe.org.au/blueprint.