Education

Schools banned from beaches, and shark patrols brought forward 2-weeks following attack

In a proactive response to a recent shark attack at Port Noarlunga, the state government has announced the early commencement of aerial shark patrols.

In a proactive response to a recent shark attack at Port Noarlunga, the state government has announced the early commencement of aerial shark patrols. Joe Szakacs, the Minister for Emergency Services, confirmed that these patrols, initially scheduled for December, will now begin two weeks ahead of time, starting this Saturday, 18 November.

This decision comes in the wake of a harrowing incident last week, where a 32-year-old woman sustained serious injuries due to a shark attack. In light of this event and the early arrival of hot weather, the patrols will be deployed to ensure the safety of beachgoers.

The aerial surveillance, a key component of the state’s shark management strategy, will cover beaches from North Haven to Rapid Bay, and the stretch between Victor Harbor and the Murray Mouth. The fixed-wing aircraft, prominently marked with ‘SHARK PATROL’ on its underside, will be a familiar sight in the skies above these areas. These patrols are not only crucial for public safety but also support local businesses and pilot training programs.

Operating daily over metropolitan beaches until Easter, the patrols will extend their coverage to the south coast on weekends, school, and public holidays. This increased frequency is particularly significant during the summer months when beach activity intensifies with the onset of warmer weather and school holidays.

The Malinauskas Government has committed over $460,000 each summer to fund this vital shark patrol program. Since its inception in 2003, the aerial patrols have been a cornerstone in safeguarding the public against potential shark threats.

Minister Szakacs emphasized the government’s commitment to public safety, stating, “We are taking quick and decisive action to deliver aerial shark patrols two weeks early, to ensure South Australians remain feeling at home on our beautiful beaches.” He also anticipates a surge in beach visits due to the longer, hotter summer, reassuring the public that the shark patrol planes will be vigilant until Easter.

Chris Beattie, the State Emergency Service Chief Officer, outlined the operational details of the patrols. In the event of a shark sighting posing a risk to the public, the aircraft will circle the area continuously and activate a siren. This is a signal for people to immediately evacuate the water.

In addition to the announcement about the shark patrols, the Department of Education also has banned all school beach activities, for the remainder of the term, including all aquatic activities, to further protect students.

Department of Education Chief Executive Professor Martin Westwell has shared that solutions are being sought. “In light of the early introduction of shark patrols announced by the State Government yesterday, the Education Department will meet urgently this week, with a group of industry experts, and other relevant bodies to look at what other risk mitigation can be put in place, with a view to resuming activities next week.”

The early start of the shark patrols reflects the government’s dedication to public safety and its adaptive response to changing environmental conditions. As South Australians gear up for a summer of beach activities, the presence of these patrols offers an added layer of security, allowing them to enjoy the state’s picturesque beaches with peace of mind.

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