Surfing WA is expected to receive $119,000 to make events safer and improve surfer rescue skills. This also includes new drones used to monitor the surfers during their heats and keep an eye out for any sharks near the event.
From the looks of things, there will only be a single drone and jet ski purchased at this time, which will total $29,000. The rest of the funding will go toward the Surfers Rescue 365 program over the next three years.
The funding results from a collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to ensure there is a plan in place when it comes to mitigating possible shark appearances during events.
Every year, just south of Perth in Western Australia, Margaret River holds the Margaret River Pro, a part of the World Surf League. As a result, this sees many people visiting to watch and well as some of the best surfers in the world hit the water, making it even more important for the latest technology to be used.
Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley shared:
Surfing WA has an impressive record in administering surfing in our State, and the McGowan Government highly values their energy in promoting their sport and improving safety in general for all surfers. Surfing competitions are held around our State, so it’s important we keep competitors safe, and improving rescue skills amongst our surfers in general also helps the wider community. Local economies benefit from surfing competitions, and when we can give participants and spectators alike greater confidence and surety that will help the growth of surfing as a sport.
This new funding boost is not confused with the surf lifesaving drones currently being used around Australia. The surf lifesaving drones have been around for the last few years and have been used to monitor swimmers and look out for sharks. Recently, AI algorithms have begun being tested that allow the drones to detect a shark or a drowning person automatically. Eventually, this would allow the drones to be fully autonomous and be used to notify lifesavers.
Over in Sydney, the surf lifesaving drones have been put to work monitoring some of the busier beaches to ensure COVID-19 rules are being followed. It continues to see community spread outbreaks of the virus. Drones have been used around Australia in the fight against COVID-19.
Photo: Dylan Alcock