Frequently asked questions

‘SMART’ stands for Shark-Management-Alert-In-RealTime. SMART drumlines consist of an anchor, two buoys and a satellite-linked GPS communications unit attached to a hook baited with one sea mullet.

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 set every morning (weather dependent) approximately 500m offshore at a depth between 8-15m of water. They are collected at the end of each day and are not left overnight.

SMART drumline diagram

Diagram of how a SMART drumline works

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 (White, Bull or Tiger shark) is tagged, it is relocated about 1km offshore. Data collected from other trials show that relocated target sharks move away from the area for several months, before resuming their natural migratory path.

An alert will be made publicly available through DPI’s SharkSmart mobile app and Twitter @NSWSharkSmart after 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.

SMART drumlines are set up just beyond the surf break to intercept sharks as they naturally move up and down the coast. Trials completed to date have shown that a single mullet on the hook does not attract sharks into the beach.

DPI has set and retrieved over 30,000 sets of SMART drumlines, often resulting in no catch and bait still intact at the end of the day. If the ‘attractant’ myth was true, then DPI would be catching sharks almost continuously, which is not the case.

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

Trials of SMART drumlines have been undertaken at multiple locations on the NSW coast by DPI scientists since December 2015. These trials are undertaken 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 out overnight.

SMART drumlines are new technology that allow target sharks to be intercepted beyond the surf break; once caught, they are tagged and relocated 1km offshore.

Target sharks’ are White, Bull and Tiger sharks as they are the species mainly involved in shark bites in NSW. Sharks tagged in the trials will allow DPI and the community to monitor shark movements along the NSW coast.

Current trials

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.

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

The locations of the SMART drumlines and shark listening stations are shown in the maps below:

Catch results are provided monthly, see the NSW North Coast SMART drumline data.



Completed trials

Summer 2019

In 2019, trials using ten SMART drumlines were undertaken at each of the following locations.

A 3 month trial of SMART drumlines was undertaken across Newcastle beaches from 1 February – 30 April 2019.

SMART drumlines were 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).

The locations of the SMART drumlines, shark listening station and nets are shown in this map (JPG, 171.84 KB).

Catch results were provided monthly during the trial, see the NSW Newcastle SMART drumline data or a summary of results (PDF, 993.16 KB).

A 3 month SMART drumline trial was undertaken in northern Sydney from 10 February – 12 May 2019.

SMART drumlines were 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).

The locations of the SMART drumlines and nets are shown in the maps below:

Catch results were provided monthly during the trial, see the NSW Sydney SMART drumline data or a summary of results (PDF, 993.1 KB).

An eight week SMART drumline trial was undertaken across Bega Valley beaches from 1 March – 28 April 2019.

SMART drumlines were placed across four areas at:

  • 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).

The locations of the SMART drumlines and shark listening station are shown in the maps below:

Catch results were provided monthly during the trial, see the NSW South Coast SMART drumline data or a summary of results (PDF, 994.19 KB).



Summer 2017-2018

Six month trials using ten SMART drumlines were undertaken at 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?