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Shark deterrents discussed at summit of world experts in Sydney

Shark deterrents discussed at summit of world experts in Sydney
September 30, 2015

Shark experts from around the world have met in Sydney to discuss initiatives and available technologies to prevent shark attacks.

The summit, held at Sydney's Taronga Zoo, was called by the NSW Government after a number of attacks and sightings in New South Wales this year, including a fatal attack on a Japanese Surfer at Ballina on the north coast in February.

An independent review into shark deterrent technologies, commissioned by the NSW Government, identified a number of options for potential trials in NSW waters, including electrical and physical barriers, sonar detection and tracking.

The meeting, attended by 70 experts, heard from a marine biologist who has been trying to develop environmentally friendly shark repellents at open-ocean beaches in South Africa.

Geremy Cliff said he was looking at replacing net and drum lines with electromagnetic repellents that covered large areas.

Cliff explained “we have pursued electrical shark repellents but now we're looking at trying to establish electrical shark cables which could protect larger areas, but we're not quite there yet.”

Cliff said the electrical technologies were costly and alternatives might prove more viable for the state, adding “we need to look at alternative technologies and while we are pursing electrical shark repellents, there are others that are available.

"At the end of the day, this research costs a huge amount of money and that is really a limiting factor and I'm very pleased that there are other organisations and companies that are looking at other technology."

Ahead of the summit, the Government released the options, identified by the review, that would be discussed and potentially put on trial, including:

• Electric deterrent barriers
• Physical and visual barriers
• Sonar technologies
• Satellite and acoustic technology - tagging and real-time tracking of tagged sharks

However, the review found that only one deterrent - a shark spotting program - was suitable for immediate trial.

The sonar technology identified in the review was the Cleverbuoy system that was developed with Optus.

The technology is described as a "smart ocean buoy that detects sharks and alerts lifeguards on the beach".

Dr Christopher Neff, a lecturer in public policy at the University of Sydney, was among the speakers and said netting and culling sharks would be out of step with public opinion.

Earlier, Dr Neff said new research showed more than 80% of people in the Ballina and Byron shires were opposed to killing sharks.

He explained to the ABC “the data that I've seen for the last three years, whether it's from Western Australia, whether it's from Sydney or whether it's in Cape Town or whether it's in Ballina, have all said: 'Don't kill the sharks'.

"The only people who are talking about killing the sharks usually is the political class.

"The public is sophisticated and the public generally gets it, that there are better alternatives that will make them safer."

7th May 2015 - SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SHARK CAGE DIVING TOUR OPERATORS DEFEND USE OF BAIT TO ATTRACT SHARKS

31st January 2015 - NEW APP TO HELP SWIMMERS AVOID SHARKS

26th January 2015 - CLEVER BUOY PROJECT TO DETER SHARKS AND KEEP BEACHES SAFE

18th January 2015 - SHARK SIGHTINGS SHUT NEWCASTLE BEACHES FOR A RECORD NINTH DAY


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