The recent death of Rob Pedretti following a shark bite off the coast of Kingscliff on 8 June has led to Tweed Shire Councillor Reece Byrnes (Labor) proposing action. Today he has submitted a motion to council calling for the purchase of ‘six drones for the purpose of conducting a shark mitigation and detection trial along our coastline’.
‘The recent tragic shark attack off the beach at Salt highlights [drives] the urgency for the purchase of these drones’, Cr Byrnes said.
‘The motion, which is for the August 2020 meeting of Council, will allow Council to purchase six drones on behalf our local surf lifesaving clubs. In partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW, Council will be able to give these clubs the technology they need to improve our safety in the water.’
The motion says that the drones would be ‘lent to Surf Life Saving Clubs within the Tweed Shire including Fingal, Salt, Cabarita Beach and Cudgen Surf Life Saving Clubs’.
State government responsibility?
Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) said that she is generally supportive of being proactive in regards to mitigating risk of shark attack and other dangers related to beach and water activities.
‘We will have to look at the cost of the drones,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘I think that we should be looking to the state government to financially cover this cost. It is a state government responsibility to decrease the risk to swimmers and surfers.
‘However, it is important to remember that there are no measures that can completely eliminate the risk if you are in the ocean,’ she says.
Need pilots first
As an active, patrolling surf life saver member of over eight years Cr James Owen (Liberal) told Echonetdaily that he has already called on the ‘state government to fund a more comprehensive drone program to include provision of drones and drone pilot training which would ultimately lead to all clubs having that capability.
‘Currently individual clubs don’t have trained pilots to fly drones so buying drones for individual clubs won’t help until we have enough trained pilots. It’s important that we all work together and approach this strategically and objectively to ensure we get it right and can keep the community safe.’
Cr Byrnes motion also proposes to revive the Tweed Beach Safety Liaison Committee alongside the drone purchases.
‘When it comes to our safety in the water, the time for talk is over. These clubs need drone technology to keep us safe. Partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW and the Tweed Shire Council on a shark mitigation trial is urgently required.’ Cr Byrnes said.