27 March, 2018

Daily shark spotting from helicopters will get underway on the North Coast this weekend as part of the NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Deputy Director General Fisheries, Dr Geoff Allan, said today.

Queensland school holidays run from Friday 30 March until 16 April, the Commonwealth Games from 4 April until 15 April and the NSW school holidays from April 14 until 29 April.

“The timing of the Queensland and NSW school holidays means helicopter aerial surveillance will occur every day, weather permitting, from South Ballina to Point Danger and back from March 30 until April 29,” Dr Allan said.

“Helicopter aerial surveillance will also occur at six other regions from South Sawtell to Wooli; Port Macquarie to Nambucca Heads; Birubi to Crowdy Head; South Wollongong to Newcastle; Moruya to South Wollongong; and Twofold Bay to the Bega River.

“Information on sharks is relayed from our helicopters to the local beach authorities and our SharkSmart App and @NSWSharkSmart on Twitter.

“We are expecting large numbers of people to flock to the beach, not only for Easter but for the school holidays as well. Beachgoers are being reminded to be SharkSmart during this time, as well as whenever they visit the beach.”

Helicopter aerial surveillance is just one of a number of shark bite mitigation measures in place along the NSW Coastline as part of the $16m NSW Shark Management Strategy.

“Our trials of SMART drumlines are continuing every day, weather permitting, between Evans Head and Lennox Head on the North Coast, and at Kiama and Ulladulla on the South Coast,” Dr Allan said.

“SMART drumlines have been highly effective for catching target sharks, namely White, Bull and Tiger Sharks, which are then tagged before releasing them further out to sea.

“These tagged sharks are detected on our network of 21 VR4G listening stations dotted along the coast, and the information is then relayed to the SharkSmart app and Twitter.”

The measures of the Shark Management Strategy are in addition to the Shark Meshing Program on 51 beaches from Newcastle to Wollongong, and a second trial of shark nets at five beaches on the north coast.

The SharkSmart campaign also provides useful tips to minimise the risk of an interaction with sharks.

“Sharks are a natural part of our environment, however a better awareness and understanding of sharks and their behaviour can help everyone enjoy the beach and reduce their risk of a shark encounter this summer,” Dr Allan said.

“The DPI works with beach authorities, life saving organisations and aerial surveillance contractors  to do all we can to protect swimmers, surfers and other water users.

“I would encourage all beachgoers to download our SharkSmart app and follow us on Twitter to get the latest information.”

SharkSmart tips for swimmers and surfers

  • Tell an on-duty lifesaver or lifeguard if a shark is spotted near swimmers or surfers.
  • Don't swim too far from shore.
  • Swim in groups.
  • Avoid swimming and surfing when it's dark or during twilight hours.
  • Avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage.
  • Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers.
  • Avoid areas with signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
  • Do not rely on sightings of dolphins to indicate the absence of sharks; both often feed together on the same food.
  • Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs.
  • Avoid swimming in canals, and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths.
  • Avoid having pets in the water with you.
  • Do not swim/surf near or interfere with shark nets.

More information

Media contact: Sarah Wright 0427 075 167 or 6391 3686