Monday, June 14, 2021

Sydney beaches get more safety with additional shark-spotting equipment

Swimmers and surfers at some of Sydney’s busiest beaches will be able to enter the water under even more protections, with the NSW Government funding additional shark safety equipment, Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced on Wednesday. .

Marshall said the Shark Observation Grants Program would deliver an extra five shark-spotting drones, emergency evacuation alarms, lifeguard training and more, to further improve surveillance at NSW beaches, including Bondi, Bronte and Maroubra.

“We can never fully reduce the risk of shark attacks at our beaches but additional safety measures mean our beachgoers will be even safer,” Mr Marshall said.

“Drones are among the most effective detection and surveillance tools, while evacuation systems and lifeguard training play a critical role in reducing the risk of shark interactions, all forming part of our holistic approach to swimmer safety.

“Today’s announcement means that whether you’re on the iconic sands of Bondi Beach, surfing at Maroubra or taking to the waters of Bronte or Cronulla, you’ll do so under more eyes in the sky and with effective emergency systems in place.

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“The Shark Observation Grants Program helps ensure lifesavers and lifeguards have the tools they need to detect sharks and warn swimmers and surfers.”

Marshall said the equipment for Sydney beaches funded through the Program include:

  • Four UAV’s and training for six beach lifeguards for Maroubra Beach through Randwick City Council;
  • A Public Address (PA) System and emergency evacuation alarms for use at Bondi and Bronte beaches through Waverley Council;
  • A PA System and six pairs of binoculars for use at Greenhills Beach and other surf clubs in the Bate Bay region through Sutherland Shire Council; and
  • The conversion of current UAV training package into online training to increase the number of UAV pilots available to operate SLS UAV’s along the NSW coastline through Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) Services.

“We opened up applications at the end of last year, and I congratulate the organisations that have been successful for this funding and I commend them for helping keep us all safer in the water,” Mr Marshall said.

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“Our beautiful beaches are integral to the fabric of our coastal communities, and swimmer safety is of the upmost importance to the NSW Government.”

SLSNSW President George Shales said the funding was important for the enhancement of its UAV program.

“The upgrade of our UAV training package into online training means that we will be able to increase the number of pilots along the NSW coastline – a critical part of our role in keeping swimmers safe,” Mr Shales said.

The Shark Observation Grants Program is in addition to the NSW Government’s $8 million 2020/21 Shark Program, which includes:

  • Drone surveillance at 34 key swimming locations;
  • 35 SMART drumlines in the Ballina and Richmond Valley Local Government Areas;
  • 21 VR4G listening stations along the NSW coastline to detect and alert the community to the presence of tagged sharks;
  • The continuation of the Shark Meshing Bather Protection program between Newcastle and Wollongong; and
  • The SharkSmart app and community awareness and education programs.

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