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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Smart drum-lines for sharks to be trialled at Ballina

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The state government will today begin trialling 'smart drum-lines' to catch and tag sharks off the Ballina coastline. (Pic: Wikipedia)
The state government will today begin trialling ‘smart drum-lines’ to catch and tag sharks off the Ballina coastline. (Pic: Wikipedia)

The state government is set to begin trials of ‘smart drum-lines’ off the coast of Ballina today in an effort to stop shark attacks in the area.

The lines use GPS buoys to send alerts when sharks have been hooked, so they can be tagged and released away from the shoreline.

Their introduction follows two fatal attacks and three maulings since September last year.

An eco-barrier is expected to be installed at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach early in the new year.

Far North Coast Shark Action Group spokesperson Don Munro, recently told media he was in favour of drums lines as a short-term measure.

Mr Munro recently told a government inquiry that he had “never seen a community so shaken up and cautious about entering the ocean”.

Mr Munro said it was time for positive action to rebuild confidence for the tourism industry, adding that he had “friends in the industry” who felt a financial impact with each shark sighting.

Not everyone is happy with the introduction of drumlines.

Sea Shepherd Australia national shark campaign coordinator Natalie Banks said a scientific review had raised questions about the effectiveness of the lines to catch white, tiger or bull sharks.

‘Smart drum lines which have been used in Le Reunion, France have not been independently tested regarding their effectiveness or their impacts on a range of marine life within Australian waters,’ Ms Banks said.

‘Additionally, the review highlighted concerns of how to manage larger sharks and whether these sharks will need to be killed or towed out to sea.’

She said Sea Shepherd was surprised that the New South Wales Government had moved forward with the drum-line option.

‘It appears to me that we continue to repeat the same mistakes from the past in terms of shark management in Australia, instead of looking to programs that have scientifically proven to work in other jurisdictions,’ Ms Banks said.

;Shark Spotters which has been in place within Cape Town, South Africa for nearly eleven years, has been scientifically proven to work, after spotting over 1,700 sharks which are mainly White Sharks, and having only one fatality during a low-visibility day.’

Shark Spotters was also the only program that the scientific review by Cardno recommended as a initiative that could be implemented immediately.

‘Why the New South Wales Government has ignored a review that they commissioned, is beyond me,’ Ms Banks said.

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  1. I heard someone being interviewed on the ABC radio news recently who said that tagging sharks with GPS trackers involves using a sonar frequency that dolphins and other animals can detect from many kilometres away. This means that the sharks traditional food sources will be incredibly difficult to catch and it could lead to the starvation of these tagged sharks, or even to increased attacks on humans out of desperation. I wonder then if the Shark Spotters program is a better way?

  2. ‘It appears to me that we continue to repeat the same mistakes from the past in terms of shark management in Australia,’—— Says it all !
    …. or perhaps ‘Smart drum lines ‘ dopey locals, who are more concerned about ameliorating tourist concerns than actual risk of attack. Pathetic !


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