NSW Stands up to Shark Attacks

New South Wales government enacts big plans to prevent attacks

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Sharks in New South Wales will soon be monitored by, among other things, smartphone apps.

Australia’s New South Wales coast has seen 13 shark attacks on surfers and beachgoers so far this year, compared with three in all of 2014. In response, the New South Wales government just announced that they’ll spend $16 million on a comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce the amount of attacks without culling sharks. “We don’t cull sharks in New South Wales,” said NSW Minister Niall Blair. A recent survey by the University of Sydney showed that most NSW residents agree with Blair, with 80 percent of survey respondents reporting that they oppose killing sharks, despite the increase of shark attacks on local beaches.

So what’s the plan then?

Drones. Shark-detecting-and-tracking sonar. Helicopter-borne shark spotters. Phone apps that alert users when sharks are in the area. And physical shark barriers for some of the sharkiest beaches. Employing all these technologies at once will be a first for any government. “”We are proud to be the first jurisdiction anywhere in the world to adopt an integrated approach toward keeping our beaches safe,” Blair told the Sydney Morning Herald.

An international shark summit concluded this past September in Sydney brought together experts from around the world to discuss new technologies to humanely keep sharks away from populated beaches. Besides the above-mentioned methods the NSW government is carting out, plenty of other shark deterrents were presented at the summit, including aerosol cans that spray the scent of dead sharks, and personal electric shark shields.

The point is, the NSW government is paying attention to the dramatic uptick in shark attacks, and is taking concrete steps to prevent them in the future, without resorting to killing scores of sharks. Whether these methods will be effective is, of course, another matter, one which will play out over the next five years as the steps are initiated.

The first order of business is to get the shark-spotting drones in the air, which is expected to begin in December, the kickoff of beach season in Australia.

Of course, all the shark deterrents in the world won’t stop us from wondering what’s sliding around down there in the abyss, possibly looking hungrily at our vulnerable, vulnerable toes. Just be thankful that Megalodons, the prehistoric sharks from your nightmares, no longer exist.