A SMART drumline trial will be rolled out at Tathra and Pambula-Merimbula beaches from tomorrow, adding to similar shark management efforts along the NSW coastline.
NSW Department of Primary Industries Deputy Director General Fisheries, Dr Geoff Allan says the program is a fantastic result for the community.
“Our beautiful beaches along the Bega Valley coastline are popular with both locals and tourists, so it’s a priority of this Government to assess numerous options to keep our beachgoers as safe as possible,” Dr Allan says.
The SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drumline trial will help guide future shark management options in the local area.
The government claims the trial will have a minimal impact on the local marine ecosystem.
“We’re delighted that this eight-week trial is set to begin, as results from trials in other parts of the state show that SMART drumlines are successful in catching target sharks, which can then be tagged and released along with any non-target animals,” Dr Allan says.
During the trial period, 10 SMART drumlines will be set at Tathra and 10 SMART drumlines will be set at Pambula-Merimbula beaches each morning and then retrieved later in the day – pending weather conditions.
While traditional drumlines have been associated with high fatalities of sharks and other marine species, the SMART drumline sends an alert via text message, email and phone call when anything takes the bait, meaning sharks are released alive and DPI scientists have the opportunity to tag their target species – White, Bull, and Tiger sharks.
The large drumline hook is baited with a single sea mullet and is not designed to attract sharks, but to entice those who happen to be passing by.
News of the trial comes after a community survey and drop-in sessions at Merimbula, Bermagui, Pambula Beach, and Tathra in early December.
Speaking to Region Media at the Pambula drop-in session, residents Chris and Shelley Boynton expressed support for the trial.
“It’s their [the sharks] habitat and those of us who go in know that there is a small risk of being attacked,” Shelly says.
DPI says the SMART drumline trial will complement other shark mitigation in the region:
• Drone aerial surveillance trials with Surf Life Saving NSW at Pambula and Tathra beaches;
• Helicopter aerial surveillance during the summer and autumn school holidays;
• The Merimbula Beach shark listening station, which sends an alert to DPI’s SharkSmart app and Twitter when a tagged shark swims within 500m of the unit.
As this new trial gets underway, SMART drumline trials continue on the North Coast up to June 30 2020, with up to 35 SMART drumlines deployed daily between Lennox Head and Evans Head.
Trials have also been conducted at Coffs Harbour, Forster, Kiama and Ulladulla, with other trials commencing in 2019 in Newcastle and Sydney.
Region Media has asked to accompany those conducting the NSW DPI Bega Valley trial and asked for the results of the community survey and consultation.