'We need to try everything we can to save lives'
THE use of high-tech military surveillance technology should be put on the agenda at an upcoming North Coast Shark Management Strategy meeting, says Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.
Shark Eye, the new surveillance and alert technology, was highlighted in The Northern Star, with sharkalert.net CEO Michael Mallis saying it had a 100% success rate in a Unites States study.
"I think it's great, I think we need to be looking forward to be innovative" said Mr Gulaptis in response to news of the technology.
"I think we need to be trying everything we can to save lives."
Shark Eye technology costs about $500,000 to implement and would cost about $2.5 million per year to maintain, Mr Mallis said.
But Mr Gulaptis said funding for any program involving the technology was "up to the minister".
NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair has been contacted for comment but Mr Gulaptis said "other options will be peripheral to the nets" at the shark management meeting.
"My colleague, Ben Franklin, will be there and I'm sure he will be prepared to raise [Shark Eye] on the agenda, but I don't think we should dismiss the trial of nets," he said.
"I think we're moving ahead in leaps and bounds and it will take a number of options to deal with sharks and people on the North Coast."
Mr Gulaptis said he wasn't convinced the Shark Eye technology would be a one-stop solution.
"You can have an eye in the sky but how does it work at a remote beach with no life saver, for example?" he asked.
"It's probably more effective at deterring shark encounters than other technologies."
Mr Gulaptis said a campaign promoting use of water safe 3G smart watches with a shark alert app was a " great idea" and government funding to subsidise the watches for life savers and other community groups focused on water safety was "a no-brainer".
"Volunteers need to be protected," he said.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan added his support for Shark Eye.
"I think that we should be looking at all the available technology," he said.
"This is obviously one that should be investigated to make sure we do everything we can to mitigate these shark attacks."