Bribie joins $6 million SharkSmart trial

Published 5:00am 31 July 2022

Bribie joins $6 million SharkSmart trial
Words by Nick Crockford

Bribie Island will be one of the new sites in the State Government’s expanded $6 million trial of shark spotting drones.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the SharkSmart trial would run to 2025 with Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ).

He said it “builds on the initial $1.75m funding for 2021-22 and underlines the State Government’s commitment to trial alternative shark mitigation technology”.

The extended drone surveillance trial does not include any changes to the Shark Control Program’s nets or drumlines.

Bribie joins $6 million SharkSmart trial

Shark spotting

“It is consistent with the Queensland shark management plan 2021 to 2025 which sets out how the Government will continue work to reduce the risk of shark bites through the traditional program, while researching and trialling new technologies and boosting community education on SharkSmart behaviours,” he said.

“The funding will see the trial continue at beaches on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, North Stradbroke Island and Magnetic Island with planning well underway to bring four new sites, Rainbow Beach, Bribie Island, Noosa Main Beach, and Kurrawa Beach, online before the 2022 summer school holidays.”

SLSQ Chief Executive Officer Dave Whimpey said the drones had already proved to be useful as both a shark mitigation tool and to aid the work of surf lifesavers.

“Since the SharkSmart drone trial started in September 2020, SLSQ has operated 3669 drone flights across the five beaches, flying 1468 km and spotting 174 sharks, including 48 large sharks estimated to be more than 2m in length,” Mr Whimpey said.

“On four occasions, beaches at North Stradbroke Island and Burleigh Beach were temporarily closed to manage the risk to swimmers.

Bribie joins $6 million SharkSmart trial
Whaler sharks spotted by SharkSmart drone at North Stradbroke Island in November 2021

Rip rescues

“Additionally, the drones have been used to rescue swimmers from rips and to assist with missing person searches, highlighting their value as an holistic beach safety tool.

“Continuing and expanding the SharkSmart drone trial will provide further valuable data about shark behaviour at some of Queensland’s most popular beaches.”

Mr Furner said Queensland’s Shark Control Program (SCP) played a vital role in providing a level of protection to water users at beaches year-round.

“However, everyone should do their part to be SharkSmart whenever they’re on or in the water and be responsible for their safety and the safety of others in the water,” he said.

Do your part and be SharkSmart:

  • Swim between the flags at patrolled beaches and check signage
  • Have a buddy and look out for each other
  • Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk
  • Reduce risk, avoid schools of bait fishing or diving birds
  • Keep fish waste and food scraps out of the water where people swim
  • Swim in clear water away from fishers

Information and results from the SharkSmart drone trial are at https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/sharksmart/drone-trial.

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