As we head into the summer holidays, the NSW coastline will become alive with families enjoying our beautiful beaches. And while our NSW Surf Life Saving lifeguards keep a watchful eye on swimmers above water, it's drones and digital intelligence that keep a watchful eye below.
The NSW Governments Shark Management Strategy commenced in 2015. This political, social and science driven project includes tagging and tracking White, Tiger and Bull Sharks, using new technologies like SMART drumlines, drones and tagging and tracking devices. These digital solutions replaced shark nets of the past and minimise the chance of sharks being injured in the nets and human interactions with sharks on coastal beaches.
The Department of Primary Industries, Shark Smart program is designed to help NSW customers enjoy the beautiful beaches. The NSW Government committed $21.4 million in 2021/22 to continue it's effective, evidence-based shark migration program, with a host of successfully trialled technologies rolled out along the NSW Coastline.
This new shark program is the largest and most comprehensive in the world and includes:
- Scaling up Surf Life Saving NSW's drone surveillance program to provide more beach coverage in more Local Government Area's (LGA's);
- Increasing coastal surveillance using shark listening stations to ensure at least one in every LGA;
- Expanding the rollout of SMART drumline technology;
- Continuation of beach meshing; and
- Boosting shark tagging, research and community education programs.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the increased funding would support the expansion of the effective, evidence-based research shark management program already in place, with a host of successfully trialled technologies to be rolled out along NSW coastline.
The drones are managed in partnership with the NSW Surf Lifesaving and the Beach Safety Program. Currently there are 34 beaches with drones and next year it will be extending to 50 beaches, with most NSW Surf Lifesaving club in NSW equipped with a drone.
This summer season, 100 SMART drumlines will be deployed in nearly every coastal council, as well as 37 VR4G shark listening stations that will alert the SharkSmart app know when a tagged shark comes close to the coast, including SLS NSW and council lifeguards.
So, whilst we can all feel relaxed this summer knowing that our beaches are safely protected from dangerous sharks, we can also feel confident that our marine life is carefully looked after to enjoy their habitat.