IN THE AIR: The Department of Primary Industries' shark drone.
IN THE AIR: The Department of Primary Industries' shark drone. Contributed

41 days of shark-spotting drone trials on North Coast

DRONES will be hovering over three North Coast beaches these school holidays as part of the NSW Government's shark surveillance program.

Lennox Head, Lighthouse Beach at Ballina and Main Beach at Evans Head will be covered by drones, while other North Coast beaches will also have helicopter patrols.

Primary Industries Minister, Niall Blair, said it was the fourth round of drone surveillance.

"The recent drone trials have shown that they are an effective tool in spotting marine animals in a range of environmental conditions which then allows authorities to quickly alert swimmers and surfers," he said.

"This round of the trial will focus on advancing shark detection and comparing the efficiency and precision of pre-determined flight path routes.

"Over the next 41 day trial, sharks which are posing a potential danger to swimmers and surfers will be immediately reported to police and local surf life saving clubs at patrolled beaches."

CASA-certified pilots will fly the drones around a 3.5-4 kilometre circuit over the ocean at a height of 60 metres, with an on-board camera providing real-time vision of coastal waters.

Other measures in place over the summer will include SMART drumlines, VR4G listening stations to identify tagged sharks, the North Coast net trial and the traditional Shark Meshing Program.