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New Training and Tech to Help Curb Shark Attacks in NSW

In an Australian-first, the NSW Government is partnering with a local organisation to deliver shark attack-specific preventive measures and initiatives as part of the state’s Shark Management Programme. The partner organisation will receive $500,000 to roll out the programme, which includes deploying up to 20 drones to patrol surf events.

The NSW Government’s 2021-2022 Shark Management Program also includes:

  • The largest fleet of shark-spotting drones keeping watch over 50 beaches
  • 37 VR4G (or satellite) listening stations to detect tagged sharks
  • 170 SMART drumlines
  • The continuation of 51 shark nets between Newcastle and Wollongong
  • Funding for community awareness and education programs
  • Funding for shark research, and
  • A rollout of the SharkSmart app.

The region’s Agriculture Minister stated that with the most recent shark attack victims being surfers, this investment ensured a quick response to shark incidents. He added that NSW has the largest shark management program anywhere across the globe and this is just another tool to help keep swimmers and surfers safe at the best beaches in the world. Beachgoers are encouraged to be SharkSmart and download the SharkSmart app when entering the ocean.

OpenGov Asia previously reported that under an $8 million strategy for shark management, drones will patrol 34 beaches across NSW. This will be in addition to the 35 SMART drumlines deployed along the north coast. The approach to shark management is based on five years of scientific research into shark behaviour and the most effective ways to protect beachgoers.

Drone devices are now capable of flying thousands of kilometres and can automatically detect the size and species of a shark. Other measures will include:

  • community awareness and education programs
  • 21 shark detection stations along the NSW coast
  • ongoing shark meshing on 51 beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong.

Trials of SMART drumlines have been undertaken at multiple locations on the NSW coast by DPI scientists since December 2015. These trials are undertaken to better understand how the technology works in different coastal areas and operating environments.

SMART drumlines are set each morning and collected in the evening (weather dependent). They are not left out overnight. SMART drumlines are new technology that allows target sharks to be intercepted beyond the surf break; once caught, they are tagged and relocated 1km offshore.

‘Target sharks’ are White, Bull and Tiger sharks as they are the species mainly involved in shark bites in NSW. Sharks tagged in the trials will allow DPI and the community to monitor shark movements along the NSW coast.

The NSW Shark Program aims to increase protection for beachgoers whilst minimising harm to sharks and other marine life.

The Program in 2020/21 includes the most effective and popular components of the Shark Management Strategy, including drones, SMART drumlines, and listening stations. The Program also includes the existing Shark Meshing Program using shark nets and helicopters between Newcastle and Wollongong.


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