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NSW expanding trial of SMART drumlines for shark management

The NSW Government is going to trial fifty new SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drumlines along the NSW coastline, joining the 35 already being successfully used on the NSW North Coast.

As part of the NSW Government's AU$16m Shark Management Strategy, SMART drumlines are a key feature of shark bite mitigation measures. They differs greatly from the operation of traditional drumlines as they are not designed or operated to kill sharks.

SMART drumlines comprise of an anchor and rope, two buoys, and a satellite-linked communications unit which is attached to a trace and baited hook. When a shark is hooked, the pressure on the line triggers the communications unit which alerts Department of Primary Industry (DPI) scientists or contractors via phone call, email and text message to the presence of an animal on the line. The team then responds immediately to the SMART drumline alert to manage the animal. otentially dangerous sharks caught on the SMART drumline are relocated further offshore, and any bycatch can be released alive immediately.

Image credit: NSW Department of Primary Industries

SMART drumlines also provide an important research tool to better understand the movements and distribution of sharks. Sharks caught on SMART drumlines can be tagged and released and DPI can then provide alerts to the community when they are close to shore.

The locations for the SMART drumlines are based on historical data on shark attacks, aerial surveillance, beach-use data and consultation with relevant local councils.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said, “SMART drumlines are the future of shark detection and mitigation and we are leading the world in this technology - they protect human life while minimising the impact on marine species. You can’t argue with the data – SMART drumlines have proven to be five times more effective than mesh nets on the North Coast during our six month trial earlier this year.”

Mesh nets caught just seven target sharks (including three White Sharks) while 25 SMART drumlines caught 37 target sharks (including 31 White Sharks) during the same period.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries will now call for tenders for the daily deployment and retrieval of the drumlines up until mid-2018.

Featured imageElias LevyCC BY 2.0

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