Unmanned aircraft to check waters off Evans Head

Unmanned aircraft to check waters off Evans Head

DRONES will soon be seen in the skies above Evans Head as a part of the NSW Government’s $16 million Shark Management Strategy.

After completing trials at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Port Macquarie, NSW DPI will start using drones at five locations simultaneously - Evans Head, Lennox Head, Ballina, Red Head and Kiama. The pilots will be located near each of the surf clubs at these locations.

The trials are testing the effectiveness of drone technology in reducing shark attacks by feeding images back to the operator in real time, using GPS coordinates.

Flights begin Thursday 29 September and will be conducted every Thursday, Friday and Sunday for a one-hour timeframe in the morning over a three-month period.

Over the trial period, the drones will fly a 3.5-4km circuit over the ocean at a height of 60m and at a speed of 40km per hour. The commercial pilots who have been contracted are all CASA-certified and are highly experienced.

If any of the commercial pilots see a potentially dangerous shark, beach authorities will be advised and the drone team will sound the shark alarm at the Evans Head Surf Club.

The drones are part of a wide-ranging plan to protect swimmers and surfers. Other technology being trialled at Evans Head includes a listening station to provide real time tracking data of tagged sharks.

For further information, or comments from Mayor Robert Mustow or General Manager Vaughan Macdonald, please contact Sharon Davidson on 6660 0257 or 0419 401 214.