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Drones will be used at West Australian (WA) beaches on a three month trial to monitor shark activity and spot other dangers such as rips and schools of baitfish which attract the predators.
WA state fisheries minister Joe Francis said the trial was part of the state government’s 33 million Australian dollars Shark Hazard Mitigation strategy, Xinhua news agency reported.
Under the plan, 88,000 thousand Australian dollars will be provided for four small drones equipped with a high-definition camera to stream live pictures back to Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) operators at some metropolitan and regional beaches.
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“Drone technology has advanced significantly in recent years and it makes sense to test if it can be used effectively to make our beaches safer,” Francis said.
“The trial will assess whether this eye in the sky technology can add value to the beach surveillance currently provided by helicopter and beach patrols,” he said.
Francis said SLSWA would test the technology’s capability against environmental factors, such as weather conditions and would be flown at beach events such as surf carnivals.
The trial will run from November to January, and future funding will depend on the results.
Meanwhile, the opposition has made an election promise for a 200,000 thousand Australian dollars subsidy scheme for personal shark deterrent devices.
At present, the state government’s shark strategy includes aerial and beach patrols, monitoring and tagging, beach enclosures, and research into deterrents and shark behaviour.