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December 8, 2021

Shark risk – proposal for Tweed Council to buy drones

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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.’

Beach safety

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.

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  1. Perhaps it would be more realistic to acknowledge the fact that there is no way to “keep us safe”
    and “Surf Life Saving NSW and the Tweed Shire Council ” are a waste of time and energy and have no more chance of succeeding than good old King Canute. Nature is only worth having, because isn’t controlled.
    If you want control, go to ‘Water World” and good luck with that !
    Cheers, G”)

  2. Though drones sound like a cool, tech savvy fix for the issue of surfers (mostly board riders) dying from shark attack trauma. The reality is they are only of use if there is 1) a clubbie drone pilot monitoring the break where you are surfing, 2) said clubbie has some means of warning you and 3) can then rescue you if you have been attacked.
    Given that surfers are generally riding breaks other than at patrolled beaches they are, in practice, useless. Just give the funds to the SLSCs and let them decide how to spend it.
    Solution? Already happening on the Sunshine, Goldie, and Newcastle/Sydney/Gong beaches, the bycatch being regrettable.

  3. If surfer Joh, you are saying shark nets are the solution you haven’t been doing your homework. There have been many unwanted shark encounters at netted beaches. the nets only give a false sense of security. most 50% of sharks caught on the inside of the nets. Drone are definitely a better option than the wonton killing of marine creatures including 4 whales that early escaped drowning in these ineffective shark nets over the last month. Drones can be fitted with a siren and float for life saving. Good on ya Tweed council. Ive been promoting this idea for years.

  4. I am a surf life saving drone pilot and we are actively training clubbies to fly drones.
    Some of the drones now have speakers on them, which allows you to relay messages of warning to people in the water.
    We also fly beyond the region of the flags, usually along the full stretch of the beach (within visual line of sight) and we often fly beyond the surf breaks.
    Hopefully this is the best non lethal way forward for shark spotting.


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