NSW Department of Primary Industries is canvassing the Bega Valley community to assess support for a trial of SMART drumlines over January and February next year.
The request comes following the council’s decision last week to support the idea of a trial, so long as the DPI take responsibility for surveying the community and for any consequences of the trial.
Director of fisheries research Dr Natalie Moltschaniwskyj said the DPI is proposing trial of SMART drumline technology for eight weeks, commencing in January at beaches across Tathra, Pambula and Merimbula to better understand how the technology works in different coastal areas and operating environments.
“We are seeking the views of the community to determine local support for the trial of the technology,” she said.
“SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-in-Real-Time) drumlines are state-of-the-art technology that differs greatly from traditional drumlines as they allow sharks to be caught, tagged, relocated 1km offshore, and released alive.
“Tagged sharks are tracked via satellite and NSWDPI’s network of 21 VR4G listening stations along the NSW coast, including Merimbula.
“This big, yellow buoy detects tagged sharks that swim within 500m of the unit and alerts DPI’s SharkSmart app and Twitter @NSWSharkSmart.”
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Since 2015, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has managed the NSW Government’s five year Shark Management Strategy which trials new and emerging technologies for shark detection and deterrents.
Technologies include SMART Drumlines for tagging, catching and tracking sharks, and drones and helicopters for aerial surveillance.
“The Far South Coast is one of many regions selected across the NSW coast to trial SMART drumlines. In the current trial in Northern NSW, up to 35 SMART drumlines are deployed daily between Evans Head and Lennox Head, and trials have also taken place in Coffs Harbour, Forster, Kiama and Ulladulla,” Dr Moltschaniwskyj said.
SMART drumlines consist of an anchor, two buoys and a satellite-linked GPS communications unit attached to a hook baited with one sea mullet. A triggering magnet is attached to the communications unit. When a shark takes the bait and puts pressure on the line, the magnet is released alerting DPI scientists and contractors there is an animal on the line.
“Once alerted, the team responds immediately to tag and release the shark, or other marine animal within 30 minutes. SMART drumlines are set every morning (weather permitting) approximately 500m offshore at a depth between 8-15m of water. They are collected at the end of each day and are not left overnight,” Ms Moltschaniwskyj said.
The public is encouraged to have their say on trialling SMART drumlines in the Bega Valley region through an online community survey at dpi.nsw.gov.au. This survey is now open until December 9.
Community drop-in stands will also be held this weekend at Merimbula Main Beach, Saturday, December 1, 9.30am until 2pm; Pambula Surf Club, Sunday, December 2, 9.30-11am; and Tathra Surf Club, Sunday, December 2, 12-2pm.
“You can speak to a NSW DPI staff member and share your views, as well as see a SMART drumline and understand how it works. We hope you can join us to learn more about shark management and have your say.”
To read more about other trials and what was caught visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/sharks/management/smart-drumlines