Shark Management An Ongoing Task

Surf Life Saving NSW has been working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) over the winter months to help implement the State Government’s multi-million shark management strategy.

Over the last two seasons there have been increased sightings of sharks in waters particularly in Northern NSW, and as custodians of the ocean, surf lifesavers have been involved in dialogue with the NSW Government and other stakeholders about the best way to approach this contentious issue without causing harm to beachgoers, sharks or other marine creatures.

As part of the pre-season package ahead of the 2016/17 season, Surf Life Saving has updated its standard operating procedures to include specific shark information.

Surf Life Saving will continue to provide on water assets to assist in patrols when required by Police, and will liaise with Councils if it is deemed necessary to close beaches.

We have put together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help provide an overview of how surf lifesavers and other stakeholders are working together to address community concerns about shark mitigation issues.


What is the Shark Management Strategy?

The Shark Management Strategy is a $16 million commitment by the NSW Government to engage the latest technology to help scientists both better understand sharks, and to help reduce the risk of shark encounters with swimmers. It has come about after extensive community consultation and has had input from world leading experts in the scientific field.

Will there be additional aerial surveillance?


The DPI have contracted a number of helicopter services around the state to provide additional patrols throughout the 2016/17 season. In order to provide maximum coverage, NSW has been divided into 7 regions/zones.

• Zone/Region 1 South Ballina to Point Danger
• Zone/Region 2 South Sawtell to Wooli
• Zone/Region 3 Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie to Nambucca Heads
• Zone/Region 4 Birubi to Crowdy Head
• Zone/Region 5 Moruya to South Wollongong
• Zone/Region 6 Bega River to Boyd Tower, Twofold Bay
• Zone/Region 7 Stockton to Wollongong (Shark Meshing Program)

Some zones will be patrolled during the September school holidays, while other contracts do not begin until summer.

What are VR4g Buoys?

VR4G receivers are designed to transmit a digital signal when a shark which has been tagged with an acoustic implant swims within 500m of the receiver. This signal is automatically sent to the Shark Smart App and Shark Smart Twitter Feed. Currently DPI researchers have tagged approximately 100 sharks of varying species.

The first 10 buoys have been installed at Kingscliff Beach (Tweeds Head), Clarkes Beach (Byron Bay), Lennox Point (Lennox Head), Sharps Beach (Ballina), Main Beach (Evans Head), Main Beach (Yamba), Park Beach (Coffs Harbour), Front Beach (South West Rocks), Lighthouse Beach (Port Macquarie) Main Beach (Foster).

From November this year a further 10 buoys will be installed at beaches from Crescent Head through Merimbula which will ultimately increase coverage right across NSW.

Has the increased presence of sharks impacted on the work of surf lifesavers?


In the Far North Coast area between July and the end of September 2015, our Surf Emergency Response System received 53 shark related callouts in comparison with the corresponding period of 2014 where there were just 4 calls through the system.

This is an incredible surge of 1,225%. The callouts had a significant impact on support services such as Rescue Water Crafts and jet rescue boats as well as increased expenses for NSW clubs.

Lifesavers are committed to the safety of all beachgoers and will continue to be involved in these on water matters as required.

How as an accommodation provider can I help reassure my guests?

We understand that some of your guests may be reluctant to enter the water due to the increased media coverage of shark encounters. As accommodation providers you have a unique connection both to your wider community and to your guests.

It is important to acknowledge that yes while sharks are in the ocean, shark encounters are still relatively rare in proportion of the millions of visitors to our beaches each year.

Surf Life Saving NSW strongly encourages all guests to swim at a patrolled location, and to not swim at dawn or dusk. The NSW department of primary industries Shark Smart Website also provides a handy guide that you can refer your guests to or download the Shark Smart App

For additional information or clarification, please contact the SLSNSW team on 9471 8000 or email

Key Links:

Information about Shark Management from the NSW Department of Industries

Information about the Shark Smart Campaign from the NSW Department of Industries

Photograph - A VR4G buoy is placed off the NSW coastline, DPI scientists at work during the tagging program (bottom), and an aeiral view of a shark in action (below) All photos are courtesy of the NSW Department of Primary Industries

Fri 23 Sep 2016