NSW Government's $16 Million High-Tech Shark Solution
NSW Government Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has announced a $16 Million, 5-year plan trialling high-tech solutions to combat increased shark attacks.
These trial solutions come after the DPI held a community forum in Lennox Head earlier in October to reassure locals that there were steps and funding in progress to ensure their safety and the survival of tourism this summer. These steps do not include culling and are aimed at providing strategies and technologies that cause little to no environmental damage to either sharks or the ocean.
The aim of the Shark Management Strategy is to increase protection for bathers from shark interactions while minimising harm to sharks or other animals. These initiatives have been derived from the Shark Summit in Sydney in September. SEE ALSO: The Great Shark Summit of Sydney
Where is the $16 million being spent?
- $3.5 million for helicopter surveillance
This is to include unmanned aerial patrols via drone and helicopter fly-overs. The drone imagery will be recorded in real time and passed on the DPI and Lifeguard services. Despite aerial surveillance being proved
In 2013, the DPI Government report claimed that aerial surveillance was 'inefficient and expensive' with only one shark spotted per 100km in a 2012/13 trial period. The surveillance also did not spot any animals within a 33km radius of Dee Why on Sydney's Northern Beaches where the shark net meshing program is in place.
The only difference is that there is a significant increase in shark activity, surface water temperature and a change in marine migration in 2015 that correlates with the attacks compared to 2012/13.
- 20 Shark Listening Stations along the NSW coast
20 VR4G shark listening stations will be set up to provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks. Ten listening stations will be deployed between Tweed Heads and Forster, with four earmarked for beaches off Evans Head, Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay.
The 4G listening stations are satellite receivers that are able to track tagged sharks and provide real-time information about their movements and research into their general movement patterns for the future. So far only 14 juvenile and sub-adult sharks have been tagged and information on the tracking is available on the DPI Website.
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- 6 Barrier Net Trials
Two new Eco Shark Barrier technology nets will be trialled at north coast beaches, with additional four trials on other NSW beaches. Locations will be determined in consultation with providers and communities to determine suitable sites.
The Eco Shark Barrier nets are 100% Recyclable and made from a strong, flexible Nylon that doesn't trap sealife like the existing nets on Sydney beaches. The nets are anchored to the sea floor and are designed for an adaptable depth and for high-energy beaches.
Existing nets have caused controversy after funding was cut to their monitoring, which needed daily attention. Many sea animals, more often than not everything but sharks, were being tangled and required attention to be released, including dolphins and whales. These new nets will eliminate this issue and don't require monitors. Shark mesh nets have been proven to work on Sydney beaches with just one fatal shark attack since 1937.
- $1.3 million to upgrade the SharkSmart App
The current SharkSmart app is outdated. The upgrade to the app would assume a similar approach to the successful Western Australian SharkSmart website that combines all appropriate services to provide a shark activity map, current research activity and reports and daily updates. Information from the tagging, listening and aerial initiatives would also be a welcomed inclusion to the app.
- 5 CleverBuoy Shark Detecting Sonar Trials
Sonar technology is a rapidly advancing surveillance technology that is able to detect sharks and relay information to shore.
Optus has teamed up with the Cleverbuoy technology system to provide acoustic detection designed to detect sharks at beaches where an array of buoys are deployed and anchored to the seabed. Data from the buoys detecting sharks close to shore and/or swimmers, can be sent live to lifeguards and Government services.
Five trials of in-water surveillance using sonar technology will be conducted at different locations along the NSW coast. They Cleverbuoy system has been trialled in Western Australia. Locations are yet to be determined.
- $7 million towards research and tagging including;
- Funding for additional staff
- Grants to fund and foster commercial innovation technologies for deterrents and detection
- Expansion of the tagging program
- Funding of PhD projects for detection and deterrence
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