Environment group will 'closely scrutinise' shark strategies
UPDATE, 2.30pm: THE NSW Nature Conservation Council says it will closely scrutinise the performance of the shark management technologies trial to ensure it minimises harm to threatened marine species.
The organisation's marine campaigner, Justin Field, said they welcomed plans to increase surveillance.
"However, we have concerns about the potential environmental impact of 'smart' drum-lines to be trialled near Ballina, a technology that will provide little if any added bather protection," he said.
"Drum-lines, even 'smart' drum-lines, can injure and kill sharks, including endangered and non-threatening species, as well as dolphins, whales, and turtles.
"There is nothing 'smart' about killing marine life.
"We are waiting for more information on the protocols around the proposed drum-line trial, but the community has consistently said it doesn't support killing sharks."
Mr Field said the NNCC wanted to know where drum lines would be placed and how long it would take crews to respond to "hooking events".
ORIGINAL STORY: SMART drum lines will installed at Ballina in an effort to prevent shark attacks.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair will announce various shark management measures at a press conference at Coffs Harbour today.
This will include installation of 4G listening stations, increased aerial surveillance and the trial of Smart Buoy lines as part of the government's fast-tracked $16 million shark management strategy.
Drones will be trialled and aerial surveillance boosted.
"There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers," Mr Blair said.
"We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find an effective long-term solution to keep our beaches safe.
"These are the first of several trials that will get underway across the state's beaches this summer as we take an integrated approach to working out a long-term solution."
Mr Blair said smart drum lines, recommended in an independent report into shark technologies, will be trialled at Ballina.
"Experts attending the shark summit in Sydney spoke in favour of this technology and I'm pleased to announce initial testing will get underway next week," he said.
The NSW Government has also fast-tracked the delivery of two 4G listening stations which will be positioned at Sharpes Beach at Skennars Head, near Ballina, and Clarkes Beach Byron Bay to provide real time tracking data of tagged sharks.
A further eight listening stations will be installed at: Tweed Heads, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Yamba, Coffs Harbour, South West Rocks, Port Macquarie, and Forster. Ten others will follow.
In addition to these measures, the NSW Government has increased aerial helicopter surveillance on the North Coast. Helicopters will fly at least three hours each day, weather permitting, from December 1 until January 26, flying from Byron Bay to Evans Head twice daily.