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Science & Research

The Western Australian Government's shark mitigation strategy has a strong evidence based focus, backed by science. The Government has supported a variety of research projects and initiatives to enhance our understanding of shark biology and ecology to better inform our government policies. 

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Scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial

Scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial

06 September 2018

The Western Australian Government is conducting a scientific trial of non-lethal SMART drumlines. The intent of the trial is not to kill sharks, but to catch, tag, relocate and release white sharks one kilometre from shore.  

Through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), the scientific trial commenced on 21 February 2019 and is expected to continue until May 2021. 

The trial was initially scheduled for 15 months, however at the independent recommendation of WA's Chief Scientist, Professor Peter Klinken AC, and through DPIRD, the duration of the trial has been extended by an additional 12 months. This extension will provide more data on the sharks being caught, tagged and monitored and will enable a science-based assessment on the effectiveness of the technology. 

Ten SMART drumlines are deployed evenly across 11.5 kilometres of coastline in the State’s South West, about 500 metres offshore from Hangmans surfbreak north of Gracetown to Ellensbrook in the south. Weather permitting, SMART drumlines are deployed and retrieved each day, during daylight hours. The drumlines are continuously monitored while in the water and positioned to allow a vessel to attend within 30 minutes of an alert being received. 

During the first 12 months, the SMART drumline trial caught two white sharks (target species) and 146 non-target sharks including tiger, bronze whaler, shortfin mako, dusky and smooth hammerhead sharks. For more information, view the monthly catch reports and Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 139

The Chief Scientist, will continue in his role and provide an independent assessment on the effectiveness of the SMART drumlines in reducing the risk of shark attacks. The Chief Scientist’s report will assist government in making a science-based assessment of the potential application of SMART drumlines in Western Australia.  

Shark Monitoring Network

As part of the consultation process for the SMART drumline trial, the community was able to provide advice on potential locations for three additional shark monitoring receivers which were deployed, two outside Cowaramup Bay and one at Lefthanders surfing spot. These receivers provide ocean users and land managers with near real-time alerts through the Shark Monitoring Network when tagged sharks are detected.

Click here to visit our online mapping tool which displays the location of the non-lethal SMART drumline trial and satellite-linked acoustic receivers. The map is best viewed on a desktop environment. If you choose to use a mobile device to review the information, don’t forget to click on the blue and white ‘i’ icon for additional information.

Shark Warning System

Shark warning systems have been installed at nine locations in the SMART drumline trial area for the duration of the trial, alerting beach users of shark activity in the area. Locations of the shark warning systems can be viewed on the shark activity map. Additional information about the activation of the shark warning systems can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Catch Reports


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