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Australia extends SMART drumline trial by 12 months

Image adapted from: https://www.sharksmart.com.au/

Western Australia’s SMART Drumline Trial has been extended by 12 months to collect more data on the sharks being caught, tagged and monitored.

The extension is essential to enable a fully science-based assessment on the effectiveness of the technology.

WA has one of the most comprehensive shark mitigation strategies in the country, ensuring authorities have the information needed to enjoy the water safely.

Fisheries, Minister Peter Tinley, said, “The SMART Drumline Trial is a non-lethal approach to assessing the risk of shark encounters off the South-West coast. A network of Shark Warning Systems is operating in the trial zone to help alert local beachgoers to trial activities.

He opined that increasing the number of tagged sharks would improve the scientific understanding of sharks’ movements and help to assess potential risks posed by white sharks.

Peter Klinken, WA’s Chief Scientist made an independent recommendation, the scientific trial to catch, tag and relocate white sharks will now extend until May 2021. It will be done through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Peter stated, “It’s important for meaningful and reliable assessment that more data is available on both the target and non-target species in the trial.

He said that the extended trial would collect additional data on sharks that would help determine the efficacy of the SMART drumline approach for hazard mitigation.

The more data available, he said, the more valuable and rigorous the evaluation can be about the effectiveness of the technology in reducing the risk of attacks by white sharks.

Extra funding of A$ 2.832 million has been made available to extend drumline operations. This adds to the cost of the first 15 months of the trial, estimated at A$ 3.543m.

The trial is being done off the coast near Gracetown. It assesses the effectiveness of drumline technology in reducing the risk of shark attacks. The trial includes 240 data recording VR2 receivers on the seabed that track the movement of sharks tagged in the trial.

In the initial one year, the SMART drumlines caught two target species – white sharks – and 46 non-target sharks, including tiger sharks and bronze whalers. An additional 27 non-target species sharks were also caught as of April 20.

The data from the first 15-months of the trial will continue to be reviewed by Professor Klinken in consultation with the Ministerial Reference Group data, to see if the trial’s methodology can be improved.

The daily SMART Drumline Trial operations can be followed on http://www.sharksmart.com.au or the SharkSmart WA app.

Other initiatives include raising safety awareness through the Sea Sense campaign, subsidising approved personal shark deterrents for divers and surfers, funding enhanced beach patrols by SLSWA, expanding the Shark Monitoring Network to detect tagged sharks between Perth and Esperance and installing three new beach-side Shark Warning Systems.

OpenGov reported about a world-first shark detection system developed by Australia’s University of Technology Sydney. The system is being used by an industry partner to identify sharks, raise alarms and provide greater protection for swimmers and surfers.

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