SMART drumline trial on Mid North Coast winds up

How the SMART drumlines are set up as part of a strategy to make beaches safer for people

How the SMART drumlines are set up as part of a strategy to make beaches safer for people

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) six month trial of SMART drumlines aimed at reducing the risk of shark attack on the Mid North Coast has come to an end.

DPI’s Fisheries Research director, Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj said SMART drumlines have been deployed daily (weather permitting) at two popular tourist destinations since August.

“In the first five months of the trial, DPI caught, tagged and released 64 sharks at Forster-Tuncurry and an additional 15 at Coffs Harbour,” Dr Moltschaniwskyj said.

“Preliminary findings from the trial suggest once tagged the sharks – mostly juveniles and sub-adults – then stay in deeper offshore waters for up to four weeks before rejoining their counterparts in their general movements north and south.

“The other important finding is that there is no such thing as a residential shark. Most individuals appear to hang around for a day or so, but then they move on.”

SMART drumlines send a message to researchers when a shark takes the baited hook under a float. Sharks are then fitted with an acoustic tag and released one kilometre off the beach and tracked using satellite and listening stations.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said NSW is leading the world in the trials of SMART drumlines, providing not only safety for beachgoers but scientific research that we’ve never seen before. 

“SMART drumlines are helping keep our beaches safer by intercepting on the seaward side of the surf break while also providing vital insights for both our scientists and our beachgoers on shark movements and their behaviour in NSW waters” Mr Blair said.

“These trials are key to allowing the NSW Government to make informed decisions.

“We want to make sure we are continually testing the science and trialling world-first technology, while keeping our local communities part of the conversation. 

“We will now work to analyse these results to inform how we may continue to use this technology across the State.”

The NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy is trialling a number of shark mitigation technologies, along with SMART Drumlines, including the use of drones and helicopters for aerial surveillance and tagging and tracking sharks.

Another part of the strategy includes 21 satellite linked (VR4G) shark listening stations, to provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks. These listening stations have been deployed at locations across the NSW coastline including at Coffs Harbour, South West Rocks, Crescent Head, Port Macquarie, Old Bar and Forster.

For more information about the NSW Shark Management Strategy visit the DPI website (www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/sharks/management).