The Queensland government will trial drone patrols at five beaches in the state’s southeast after a surfer was fatally mauled by a shark.
Fisheries Minister Mark Furner says the drones will be deployed by Surf Life Saving Queensland at Main Beach and Burleigh Beach on the Gold Coast, Coolum Beach and Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast and North Stradbroke Island.
He says drones will be in the air every weekend, public holiday and every day during school holidays until November 2020, subject to weather and wind conditions.
“We will have drones in the air at five Southeast Queensland beaches from this weekend,” Mr Furner said.
It’s understood an independent report recommends the trial only guage the effectiveness of drones in backing up existing lifesaving activities, as they may not be efficient in spotting sharks during twilight hours at dawn and dusk when people prefer to surf.
The trial comes after real estate agent Nick Slater, 46, died after being bitten on the leg by a suspected great white shark on September 8.
It was the first fatal shark attack on the Gold Coast in 60 years.
Three tiger sharkes were caught in nets and on drumlines near Greenmount Beach in the hours after the attack.
Mr Furner said there were already 86 beaches with shark control equipment across the state, including 23 on the Gold Coast where the most recent shark death occured last week.
“The program is under constant review, with the aim of making continual improvements,” he said.
The minister is meeting with the Shark Control program Scientific Working Group at 11am on Friday to discuss the program.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says the government has failed to fully implement the controls recommended in a review of the shark control program released 12 months ago.
“Labor are putting swimmers and tourism jobs at risk,” Ms Frecklington said.
Ms Frecklington said the LNP supports the use of more SMART drumlines and drone surveillance.
In Queensland’s latest attack, a man in his 50s was fishing 35km off Fraser Island on Thursday afternoon when he hooked a whitetip shark and was bitten on the arm.