Smart drum lines could be way to go for shark solution
A GLOWING presentation of so-called "smart drum lines" at last Friday's shark forum has positioned the technology as a potential preferred option for trial on the North Coast.
During the forum, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair pledged that NSW would definitely have trials of new generation shark deterrents this summer.
Killing shark days over
Department of Primary Industries shark expert Dr Vic Peddemors said the "old days" of catching and killing sharks was over.
Regions such as the Gold Coast use a combination of nets and baited drum lines which destroy both sharks and other harmless marine life along with them.
Instead, Dr Peddemors highlighted the "incredibly successful" protocol of smart drum lines, which work the same as traditional drum lines except they have cameras and sensors attached.
Mobile phone alerts are generated when a shark is caught and an on-call marine team tags and releases the predator.
Reunion Island example
Dr Peddemors cited a trial of the technology in shark-infested Reunion Island which caught five sharks in two days, including two large tiger sharks which were deemed a threat to humans and killed.
The remainder were released.
"It serves a great purpose, from an environmental point of view, it's environmentally friendly, and they've had very few fatalities of animals on this new equipment, and it's removed a lot of sharks out of Reunion… near-shore waters anyway."
Reunion has had seven shark attack fatalities since 2011.
Despite its success, the trial of smart drum lines in January 2014 was no silver bullet, with a 13-year-old surfer killed there there earlier this year.
State government announcement
Mr Blair said the NSW Government would be making an announcement "in the very near future" on what would be trialled this summer and it would not be a "one size fits all" technology.
He cautioned that none of the technologies reviewed were "100% available on the shelf ready to go".
In the meantime, the current triple-0 protocol used in shark sightings will continue with 34 responses since it started in late July.
The DPI has also installed four new acoustic receivers across the North Coast which work with acoustic tags implanted in the shark.