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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 trialed 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 are continuing to restore the beach 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.
NSWDPI undertook a collaborative project with University of Technology Sydney and Shark Mitigation Systems to to determine the ability of sonar technology to detect White Sharks and relay information to shore. The trial of ‘Clever Buoy’™ was undertaken at Hawks Nest where White Sharks are known to be present and video cameras deployed within the sonar detection area were used to confirm the presence of White Sharks.
The Clever Buoy and its supporting software successfully identified White Sharks 45% of the time within a 46m range with the length estimates provided reliably close to the lengths estimated by video cameras. The range and accuracy of the data was significantly influenced by the trial design and water depth with the sonar configuration post testing found to be not correctly positioned for the water depth encountered and the shark size smaller than the detection algorithm had been designed for.
Observations of the behaviours of marine animals during the trial showed no evidence that they were affected by the presence of the Clever Buoy system.
Future research and development of the Clever Buoy includes trialling in areas where larger threatening sharks are present and fine tune protocols to calibrate and deploy Clever Buoy for the range of depth and beach conditions experienced in NSW.
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.
A number of trials have been completed at Ballina, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Redhead and Kiama. CASA-certified pilots will fly the drones over 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.
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.
Ten SMART Drumlines are also being trialled at each of the following locations: