In 2015 the NSW Government announced the NSW Shark Management Strategy, a program designed to complement the existing Shark Meshing Bather Protection Program.
The key objective of the NSW Shark Management Strategy is to increase protection for bathers from shark interactions while minimising harm to sharks or other animals.
This is a scientifically driven, integrated strategy involving several innovative approaches to provide the most effective shark attack mitigation measures at NSW beaches. The NSW Shark Management Strategy is an investment of more than $16 million to introduce innovative trials and fund continual projects over five years.
In September 2015, shark experts from across the world met at the NSW Shark Summit and considered an independent review of potential shark deterrent technology (PDF, 4142.53 KB) to be trialled in NSW waters.
Trials of eco friendly shark barriers at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina and Lennox Head beach were discontinued after both manufacturers were unable to safely and effectively install the barriers.
All barrier construction materials have been recovered from Lighthouse Beach and the beach has been restored to its original condition.
Works have commenced to remove all barrier construction materials. Scheduled works will be undertaken over 2-3 weeks, weather dependant. Machinery will be on-site during this process. The beach will be restored to its original condition.
DPI has invested in satellite linked (VR4G) shark listening stations. These are receivers that record the presence of tagged animals swimming within a 500 metre radius of the listening station and provide real-time updates of tagged sharks close to key swimming/surfing locations.
Captured information goes straight to a satellite and is then instantly sent to the public and beach authorities via Twitter and the SharkSmart App. This data from the full network of listening stations also provides important insights into the movements of sharks in our waters.
DPI also manages several hundred VR2W listening stations that must be retrieved from the seabed to download data. This retrospective shark movement data provides finer scale information on shark movements and habitat use that will assist in understanding factors affecting shark distribution and their interactions with humans.
Sonar technology is a rapidly advancing surveillance technology that is potentially able to detect swimming objects underwater and relay information to shore. ‘Clever Buoy’™ has recently completed a trial of the technology at Bondi Beach to determine if this new sonar technology, coupled with tailored software, can detect shark-sized objects. Further trials will be completed in late 2016.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, often known as drones, offer emerging surveillance technology that provides aerial surveillance of coastal waters and real-time vision of the area.
DPI is currently trialling the use of UAV's and tethered aerial surveillance platforms in several locations, including the NSW north coast, as a form of shark spotting.
A review on UAV's for Marine Surveys was conducted in February 2015 by the University of Sydney.
Phase 3 of the drone trials is currently underway at Ballina, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Redhead and Kiama. The drones will fly a 3.5-4km circuit over the ocean at a height of 60 metres and speed of 40km per hour, with an on-board camera providing real-time vision of coastal waters. CASA-certified pilots fly the drones from vantage points for one hour in the morning every Thursday, Friday and Sunday until mid-December.
SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drumlines differ greatly from traditional drumlines as they are not designed to kill sharks. The state‐of‐the‐art technology alerts a response team when a shark is captured. The team then respond immediately to tag and potentially relocate the shark.
Initial testing of the SMART drumline technology occurred in the Bellinger River, south of Coffs Harbour, in late 2015 with scientists from Reunion Island. Further trials have taken place at several locations along the NSW coast and will continue in order for scientists to determine the best use of this technology.
These drumlines are only deployed when a team is on hand for immediate response.
15 SMART drumlines are currently in use along the NSW coast. An additional 85 SMART drumlines have been ordered and will begin to be rolled out before the end of the year.