Are SMART drumlines the smart answer?

Australian Lifeguard Services NSW manager, Brent Manieri.
Australian Lifeguard Services NSW manager, Brent Manieri.

As an Australian Lifeguard Service member was making a final sweep of Elizabeth Beach as part of an assessment to determine if Great Lakes beaches could re-open following Thursday’s shark attack at Seven Mile Beach, he spotted a 1.5 metre hammerhead.

The shark was one of two spotted relatively close to shore in a matter hours.

At nearby Boomerang Beach a two metre white shark was spotted from a Department of Primary Industries Fisheries (DPI) drone about an hour earlier, while a tagged shark was detected at Forster’s Main Beach earlier in the morning.

Five beaches from Seven Mile to Blueys are expected to re-open either later today or tomorrow.

Over the next 3-4 days a team from the DPI will deploy five SMART drumlines at strategic locations from Forster and south to Seven Mile Beach.

At the same time, drone surveillance will take place  over the weekend with flights every hour over Boomerang and Blueys beaches.

The drumlines are part of the $16 million strategy in place to help protect swimmers and surfers along with increased drone and aerial surveillance, the shark tagging program VR4G listening stations, the SharkSmart Twitter feed and app and trial nets around Ballina.

VR4G shark listening stations are in position at Forster, Hawks Nest, Crescent Head, Old Bar, Port Macquarie.

Australian Lifeguard Service NSW manager Brent Manieri explained the SMART drumlines were a baited hook but without the barb.

These have a minimal impact on the caught shark, he said.

Mr Manieri said an instant message was sent to members of the DPI as soon as a shark was caught.

The team tag the caught shark and released it further out to sea.

He said past experience had demonstrated that sharks generally didn’t return for a second encounter with a drumline

Commenting on Thursday’s attack, Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said as we head into the summer period we understand the risk to communities is higher.

“Incidents like this one impact the whole community and we will continue to test and implement a range of technologies to protect beachgoers.”

SMART drumlines will be deployed at Great Lakes beaches during the next three to four days.

SMART drumlines will be deployed at Great Lakes beaches during the next three to four days.