A shark spotting radio frequency could have added scientific benefits.
A shark spotting radio frequency could have added scientific benefits. Nat Bromhead

Radio plan could save sharks

A DEDICATED radio frequency mooted for shark spotting could have added scientific benefits that would help protect threatened species, a local expert says.

Last weekend NSW South Coast beach patrollers reported record shark numbers between Newcastle and Ulladulla, prompting suggestions that a special radio frequency be allocated for civil aviation pilots to log shark and bait fish movements.

The idea has been suggested as a far cheaper alternative to shark netting to help protect swimmers.

Southern Cross University's Dr Daniel Bucher, a senior lecturer in marine biology and fisheries with the School of Environmental Science and Management, said while the idea is geared towards the safety of swimmers, there could be added benefits for the sharks.

"Firstly I'm in favour of any method to reduce the interaction of sharks with people that doesn't involve killing sharks - like the shark nets which are designed to entangle them," he said.

"It's an odd anomaly when we've got endangered species - particularly great whites and grey nurses - with recovery plans to build up their numbers, while at the same time we have a strategy to reduce their numbers near beaches.

"So there's got to be a better way to do that and I think increasing money on a shark-spotting program is one of the first things you'd want to do.

"Any sort of large-scale sampling like that would open all sorts of possibilities for research.

"We could start to answer some of those questions; is it just perception or do more sharks start to come in at this time of year. Maybe we could look at what conditions more sharks arrive under; what makes a good year for sharks; what makes a bad; and maybe have some idea of predicting this in advance."