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DAILY shark patrols will begin next month as part of a $1.1million plan by Surf Lifesaving WA to keep beachgoers safe this summer.

Surf Lifesaving spokesman Chris Peck said $500,000 would be spent keeping the Westpac rescue helicopter in the air for three hours every day from mid-December to the end of February.  This year’s safety plan also included spending $600,000 on 30 emergency response points at secluded beaches and 27 beach surveillance cameras. And 4300 lifesavers will patrol beaches.

It is a significant investment in using technologies to combat coastal incidents, Mr Peck said.  It is the biggest presence we have ever had. Mr Peck said the State Government had agreed to provide thousands of dollars to help operate daily helicopter patrols.  The helicopter will fly for three hours between 6.30am and 2pm.

He said the public wanted more beach patrols in summer, with many people unhappy that aerial shark patrols had operated only on weekends and public holidays.  Mr Peck said ideally aerial patrols would operate five hours a day, but there wasn’t enough money to keep the helicopter in the air longer.

I think the pressure probably came from the public to have a service mid-week, he said.  The fact that something is up there (the helicopter) looking after them gives people a sense of security.  I would have liked another two hours so that we were flying five hours a day.  It would have enabled us to spread our patrol coverage a little more broadly.

Mr Peck said the use of emergency response points and surveillance cameras would help save lives. The response points are like emergency freeway phones.  Beachgoers can push the button and say to an operator I have seen a shark, someone is caught in a rip so we can get a team to that beach quickly he said.  The beach surveillance cameras don’t just take images, they gather data.  Whether it’s looking for sharks or missing people in the water, it has the functionality to assist as a third eye.

Source www.news.com.au

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