SMART drumlines include an anchor and rope, two buoys and a satellite-linked communications unit that is attached to a trace and baited hook.

A triggering magnet is attached to the communications unit. When a shark takes the bait and puts pressure on the line, the magnet is released alerting the boat crew and DPI scientists that there is an animal on the line. Once alerted, the team responds immediately (within 30 minutes) to tag and release the shark or other marine animal.

SMART drumlines are located around 500 metres offshore in 8 to 15m of water. They are positioned well away from shore and are set to intercept and catch target sharks as they travel along our coastline, reducing the chances of an interaction with water users. They are deployed by an experienced team of contractors and/or DPI researchers.

Once a target shark is tagged it is relocated about 1km offshore. Data collected from other trials shows that relocated target sharks move away from the area for several months, before resuming their natural migratory path.

An alert will be made available through the SharkSmart app and Twitter @NSWSharkSmart when the shark is released. Automatic alerts are also posted when a tagged shark swims within 500m of one of the 21 shark listening stations across NSW.

Between 2 December 2015 and 9 September 2018, SMART drumlines were used to intercept, tag and relocate 370 dangerous sharks, including 300 White Sharks, 43 Tiger Sharks and 27 Bull Sharks. Once a shark is tagged and it is relocated approximately 1km offshore.

Sixty-two per cent of these sharks were detected on the network of 21 listening stations (VR4Gs) deployed along the NSW coastline; 211 White, 13 Bull, and 4 Tiger Sharks. DPI provides alerts to the community about the presence of these tagged sharks via the SharkSmart app and Twitter feeds.

Sharks that are tagged and relocated move away from the coast for an average of 74 days before they are again detected on a VR4G. Post-release, the distance of the shark from the tagged location to the location of the VR4G was an average of 165km.

This provides us with confidence that SMART drumlines are effective in removing the immediate risk to beach users at that beach and other nearby beaches for several months.

See the full suite of frequently asked questions on SMART drumlines (PDF, 782.68 KB).



Trials of SMART drumlines

SMART drumline trials will take place this summer to better understand how the technology works in different coastal areas and operating environments.

SMART drumlines are set each morning and collected in the evening (weather dependent). They are not left overnight.

Information about target sharks (White, Bull and Tiger sharks) caught during the trials will be posted on our SharkSmart app and Twitter @NSWSharkSmart so you can keep up to date with what we’re catching.

At the end of each trial, we will provide an overview of the results on the website.

Current Trials

A 3 month trial of SMART drumlines will take place across Newcastle beaches from 1 February – 30 April 2019.

SMART drumlines will be placed at Stockton, Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar, Dixon Park and Merewether beaches, located near existing mesh nets to compare how this new technology performs.

For more information on the trial, read our fact sheet (PDF, 456.33 KB).

See NSW Newcastle SMART drumline data

A 3 month SMART drumline trial will take place in northern Sydney from 10 February – 12 May 2019.

SMART drumlines will be placed across two areas at:

  • Barrenjoey to Newport beaches at Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola and Newport; and
  • Dee Why to Manly beaches at Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff and Manly.

For more information on the trial, read the Barrenjoey to Newport fact sheet (PDF, 12960.42 KB) and Dee Why to Manly fact sheet (PDF, 12490.73 KB).

See NSW Sydney SMART drumline data

An eight week SMART drumline trial is underway across Bega Valley beaches from 1 March – 28 April 2019. This is later than the proposed commencement date in January due to procuring a suitable contractor in the area.

SMART drumlines will be placed across four areas:

  • Tathra beach
  • Short Point beach
  • Merimbula beach
  • Pambula beach

For more information on the trial, read the Bega Valley region fact sheet (PDF, 15204.1 KB).

Trials of SMART drumlines have been undertaken at multiple locations on the NSW North Coast by DPI scientists since December 2015.

Up to 35 SMART drumlines have been deployed daily between Evans Head and Lennox Head (weather and ocean conditions permitting) by Contractors since December 2016 (see table below).

See NSW North Coast SMART drumline data



Previous trials

Six month trials using ten SMART Drumlines have been undertaken each of the following locations during 2017 and 2018.

Researchers visited the five trial areas above (Ulladulla-Narrawallee, Kiama-Shell Cove, Forster-Tuncurry, Coffs Harbour-Sawtell and Ballina-Broken Head) and conducted community focus forums to gain insights and evidence of community sentiment to assist with government development of shark-related policies. The main findings (PDF, 1687.03 KB) addressed three questions:

  • What are attitudes to and awareness of SMART drumlines?
  • What are attitudes to and awareness of the SharkSmart App and the Vr4G listening station?
  • What are attitudes to and awareness of shark mitigation strategies generally?