Aerial view from one of the drones used during the trial

Australian coast drones protect surfers from sharks

Aerial drones that will protect surfers and swimmers from shark attacks are being trialled by New South Wales (NSW) on the east coast of Australia.

The A$16m (£8m) project is being fast tracked by the NSW government and will also include smart drum lines, unmanned aquatic traps used to lure and capture large sharks using baited hooks.

The first field tests of drones have already begun at Coffs Harbour, located between Brisbane and Sydney.

The trials will test the effectiveness of drone technology in shark attack mitigation by feeding images back to the operator in real time, using GPS coordinates.

The smart drum lines are also being trialled near the town of Ballina.

The Australian minister for primary industries Niall Blair said the new systems will improve the safety of coastal activities.

“There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers,” he said.

“We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find an effective long-term solution to keep our beaches safe.”

“These are the first of several trials that will get underway across the state’s beaches this summer as we take an integrated approach to working out a long-term solution.”

The NSW Government has also fast-tracked the implementation of two 4G listening stations, which will be positioned at Sharpes Beach at Ballina and Clarkes Beach Byron Bay, to provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks.

A further eight listening stations are making their way to NSW and will be installed at Tweed Heads, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Yamba, Coffs Harbour, South West Rocks, Port Macquarie, and Forster. Up to 10 more stations will be constructed at a later date.

In addition to these measures, the NSW government has increased aerial helicopter surveillance on the North Coast. Helicopters will fly at least three hours each day, weather permitting, from December 1 until January 26 2016.

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