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Surf businesses suffering as shark fear continues in Ballina

DOWNTURN: Surfboard maker Wayne Webster is just one Ballina Shire surf business suffering due to the shark attacks and sightings off the coast.
DOWNTURN: Surfboard maker Wayne Webster is just one Ballina Shire surf business suffering due to the shark attacks and sightings off the coast. Graham Broadhead

THE future is very uncertain for surfboard maker Wayne Webster.

He is just one of the surf-related businesses suffering at the moment because of the recent shark attacks and spate of sightings.

And he's not sure how the situation will pan out.

"No one knows," he said.

"Time will tell if this is an ongoing issue or will we look back and say 'how crazy was 2015'."

He says the recent events have had a "dramatic impact on the psychology" of the local area as well as on his business.

Wayne set up his Ballina business Webster Surfboards six years ago, but he has lived, worked and surfed locally for 22 years.

He said in the past months, he has gone from making 20 boards a week to four.

He said it was impossible to make plans for this kind of event in a business plan.

It's now getting into a normal quiet period, and it's his big-wave boards which he exports which are keeping him going at the moment.

He said the situation was "frustrating" for his business - he was on the verge of expanding, but now he is considering downsizing and having a sale of his current stock.

Even still, he is friends with two shark attack victims and has willingly donated surfboards to fundraising efforts locally.

The father-of-two hasn't ventured into local waters since the July attack on Mat Lee.

While a recent survey on the impact of shark activity on Ballina Shire businesses revealed little impact generally, the executive officer of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Nadia Eliott-Burgess, said local consumers shouldn't forget the impact it has had on surf-related businesses.

She said the community could still support those businesses by considering surf gear for Christmas gifts, or surfers could take the time to have dings repaired or have that new board made.

A shark summit will be held in Ballina on October 14 following last week's meeting in Sydney.

Topics:  ballina sharks lismore shark


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