The co-founder and project manager of a successful shark mitigation program in Cape Town, South Africa will be coming to Australia in early March, to ascertain whether the initiative could be introduced at beaches within Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.
The “Shark Spotters” will be undertaking a range of site visits at popular beaches to determine if the topology lends itself to a similar program, and will be liaising with key stakeholders to discuss their findings.
National Shark Campaign Coordinator for Sea Shepherd Australia, Natalie Banks states that it was only through crowd-funding that the Shark Spotters were able to come to Australia.
“A scientific review held last year in New South Wales, indicated that Shark Spotters was the only initiative that was ready immediately for a trial in northern New South Wales, but this recommendation appears to have been ignored.”
“Shark Spotters has been operating successfully in South Africa for over eleven years, spotting over 700 white sharks at eight beaches, with only one fatality occurring on a low visibility day which was indicated by the flying of a black flag.”
The program uses a system of spotters, flags and alarms, along with towers to alert ocean users to the presence of sharks and other marine life, which may attract sharks.
“Shark Spotters is a simple communication system for beachgoers, whereby they are able to make a fully informed decision on whether to go out for a surf or swim based on what has been sighted over the past few days and hours,” Ms Banks said.
"Through years of collected data and research, the program is even able to specify certain times of the year that are deemed low risk for particular events."
“We currently are not capitalising on the sightings from aerial patrols or the community, to inform beach goers of what is happening at their local beach in terms of marine life activity.”
Community forums have also been arranged at Gracetown and Perth in Western Australia and in East Ballina and Sydney in New South Wales for the public to meet the Shark Spotters and ask them questions directly.
For further information regarding these forums please visit: http://www.seashepherd.org.au/apex-harmony/news/apex-news/shark-spotters-community-forums.html
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