11 September 2019

Shark Drumline Trial starts off Tathra, Pambula, Merimbula tomorrow

| Ian Campbell
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The government claims the SMART DRumline trial will have a minimal impact on the local marine ecosystem. Photo: NSW DPI

The government claims the SMART Drumline trial will have a minimal impact on the local marine ecosystem. Photo: NSW DPI.

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.

A SMART drumline trial will starts at Tathra and Pambula-Merimbula beaches from March 1. Photo: NSW DPI.

A SMART drumline trial will start at Tathra and Pambula-Merimbula beaches from March 1. Photo: NSW DPI.

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.

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Great research. More info the better.

Maria Linkenbagh1:11 pm 02 Mar 19

I cannot agree that the expense will be justified regarding swimmer safety, as there will always be untagged sharks and other hazards in the ocean. However, as a means of learning more about their habits, migration and habitatit will be a useful scientific tool.

Matthew Beller9:27 pm 28 Feb 19

Leave them alone its there play ground.all u doing attract other big fish. Not good idea.

Grant Webster4:28 pm 28 Feb 19

In the survey 57% of 237 respondents (135 people) opposed the trial – but DPI staff reckon “around 70%” of 135 people (95 people) support it – so based on that they’re going ahead despite a clear message from the community – NO!

I attended an info day at Merimbula, which was very informative. It is a very clever system and did allay fears about shark welfare BUT we were told by DPI staff that “the survey rules and if 51% of people said no we definitely won’t go ahead”. They survey shows there is no community support for this utterly ridiculous idea. All it does is alert us that a shark has been tagged. It doesn’t tell us about the other dozen sharks in the bay that it didn’t catch. It’s a political response to a non-existent risk probably driven by public servants justifying their existence or somebody’s brother-in-law has a Smart Drumline factory and needs a contract. Either way it is just plain stupid.

Stephen kambouridis1:26 pm 28 Feb 19

Leave marine animals in peace. Mitigating risk is a ridiculous concept.

Russell Jennings10:49 am 28 Feb 19

How are ten ‘smart’ drum;ines with bait NOT going to attract MORE sharks to the area??? I surf and are not impressed or convinced by the DPI spin. release the REAL results of the “community consultation. Release all the detail so we are more confident the figures are actually real. I know such cyncicism about the processes of government is shameful………….

This is a total crime, theses animals have not posed a real problem here, I dive the regions waters every week and believe such drumlines are a poor reaction to a non existent risk, there has only been one attack in recent years fatal as it was, the risk is virtually zero, driving to the beach is far more dangerous. Its sad and pathetic that people fear these beautiful creatures so much, if you are worried then don’t enter their home

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