Shark drones to patrol stretch of Australia's coast

  • 25 November 2015
  • From the section Australia
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Sign reads "beach closed after fatal shark attack" Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ballina's Shelly Beach on the far north coast of NSW was closed after Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara, 41, died following a shark attack in February

Beachgoers will be protected from sharks by drones and "smart" drum lines, according to the New South Wales (NSW) government.

A trial will begin on the NSW north coast where there have been several attacks in the past 12 months.

The drones will feed images back to operators looking for sharks using GPS co-ordinates.

The measures are part of a shark management strategy which also includes barriers and helicopter surveillance.

"There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers," NSW minister for primary industries Niall Blair, said in a statement.

"We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find a long term-term solution to keep our beaches safe," he said.

Field test

A field test of the drones will begin at Coffs Harbour and a "smart" drum line will be trialled at Ballina, near where a surfer was mauled to death in February.

These lines alert officials immediately when a shark has been snagged on a baited hook, unlike traditional lines that are checked intermittently.

Mr Blair said they were more humane than lines used to catch sharks in other states such as Western Australia and Queensland.

The measures come after a "shark summit" held by the state government at which experts presented various methods to prevent attacks.

The state Labor opposition's shadow primary industries minster Mick Veitch said more details were needed about the trials.

"This almost seems to have been plucked from the sky, the trial," he said, according to ABC.