HELICOPTERS and drones will again be circling the skies on the NSW north and mid north coasts, as aerial surveillance and further drone trials get under way in time for school holidays.
NSW Department of Primary Industries acting deputy director general fisheries Sarah Fairfull said helicopters will fly daily, weather permitting, from Point Danger (Tweed Heads) to South Ballina; Wooli to Sawtell; Nambucca Heads to Port Macquarie; and Crowdy Head to Birubi during the school holidays as well as Stockton to South Wollongong on weekends and every Wednesday.
“Spring and school holidays are here, and now that the weather is a little warmer we expect locals and holidaymakers to flock to the state’s beautiful beaches,” she said. “Sharks are a natural part of our environment, however a better awareness and understanding of sharks and their behaviour can help everyone enjoy the beach and reduce their risk of a shark encounter these school holidays. The NSW Government is committed to the ongoing safety of beachgoers and is doing all it can to minimise the risk of harm to both swimmers and surfers.
“In addition, drones fitted with a siren to alert swimmers and surfers if a shark is spotted nearby will be flying every half hour each morning of the holidays at Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Lighthouse Beach at Ballina and Evans Head. This round of drone surveillance complements our other measures under the $16 million Shark Management Strategy.”
This includes a network of 21 VR4G listening stations, which provide real-time shark alerts to beachgoers when a tagged shark swims within 500m. Aerial surveillance sightings and tagged shark information is automatically sent out via the Sharksmart App and on @NSWSharkSmart on Twitter.
35 SMART drumlines are also currently deployed between Ballina and Evans Head, helping to increase shark mitigation methods on the north coast. 10 SMART drumlines have also been deployed between Coffs Harbour and Sawtell and another 10 at Forster/Tuncurry. An additional 20 SMART drumlines will also be deployed between Kiama and Shell and between Ulladulla and Narrawallee.
“A second North Coast shark net trial will get under way at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head, Sharpes Beach, Shelly Beach and Lighthouse Beach at Ballina, and Evans Head Beach, in early November,” Ms Fairfull said.
An additional 51 of the state’s most popular beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong are netted as part of the NSW Shark Meshing Program from September to April every year.
Check out the drone vision below: