NSW Department of Primary Industries staff and contractors roll out shark nets.
NSW Department of Primary Industries staff and contractors roll out shark nets. Courtesy of NSW Department of Pr

Smart technology for shark nets not ready

SHARK nets have been rolled out across five beaches on the North Coast without the technology to alert local fishers of entrapped marine wildlife.

Department of Primary Industry staff were at Lennox Head last week for a community drop-in information session where they explained that chief shark scientist Paul Butcher was still working on the alert system to be trialled over the next six months.

The Northern Star has since learned that Dr Matthew Broadhurst is actually the scientist in charge of developing smart technology for the nets with help from Dr Butcher, who oversees existing technology in smart drum lines.

The anticipated technology is based on alerts used in smart drum lines, where DPI policy is for a response within 40 minutes.

The department will pay commercial fishers to respond to shark net alerts when the technology arrives but until then the fishers will check nets under DPI supervision once each morning and once each night for trapped wildlife, weather permitting.

Smart drum lines are being used in conjunction with nets, said DPI staff.

Drum lines were marked with orange buoys whereas nets were marked with yellow buoys that were difficult to see from shore due to natural light.

While five beaches have been netted so far, the government has special permission to use another five nets during the trial, as long as all nets fall within the Ballina and Richmond Valley local government areas.

The shark net trial has met with strong and mixed community reactions in recent months and will be subjected to a national Senate inquiry in 2017.



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