Drone roll-out will give lifesavers extra eyes in the sky

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BEACHES on the North Coast will have an extra line of defence against shark attacks with drones flying every day during the school holidays.

Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin said the NSW Government has provided $430,000 in funding to Surf Life Saving NSW (SLS) to give lifesavers extra eyes in the sky this summer and deliver live vision back to the beach.

“Surf Life Saving NSW has used the funding to purchase drones and train drone pilots, which will allow for shark surveillance at beaches in the Bryon Bay, Ballina and Evans Head regions,” Mr Franklin said.

“Two of the drones will be part of mobile units fitted with Shark Spotter technology, a flotation device that can be dropped down to swimmers, an alarm and a loudspeaker.

“Up to nine beaches will have the smaller drones also fitted with Shark Spotter technology and will fly each morning.

“Using drone technology will not only provide extra detection for sharks, but also allow our lifesavers to help someone in trouble.”

The project is in collaboration with NSW DPI Fisheries, who will provide their expertise and training based on 18 months of trials that have explored how drones can be used for shark surveillance.

The drones will not only benefit locals but also the thousands of tourists who flock to the north coast’s pristine beaches each year.

“It will give beachgoers some extra re-assurance and peace of mind,” Mr Franklin said.

“We are making sure we are exploring a range of possible measures to ensure that beachgoers are as informed as they can be.

“These drones will complement up to 35 SMART drumlines, helicopter surveillance, and the second net trial.

“It’s great to see the benefits of all these measures now flowing back into our local tourism, I know businesses are feeling more confident as people return to our iconic beaches.”

For further information on the NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy, visit the NSW Department of Primary Industries website and download our SharkSmart app.