Drones are to be used in Australia in a bid to protect people against shark attacks.

A trial of the unmanned aerial vehicles in New South Wales follows a spate of attacks on humans by the marine predators this year, one of which was fatal

The drones will feed live images back to an operator, including GPS coordinates, so people can be better warned.

The technology is already being used by lifeguards in California to monitor Great Whites in an attempt to keep beaches safe.

NSW is also to test out "smart" drum lines which after hooking a shark alert the authorities, who can then tag and release the animals.

Two "listening stations" located on the far north coast of the state will provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks.

The state government said the drum lines are more humane than those used to capture sharks in Western Australia in 2014 after a string of fatalities, with the largest of the animals destroyed.

The controversial catch-and-kill policy was later abandoned after objections from the state's environmental agency and conservationists.

Niall Blair, a minister in the NSW government, said: "They're like a baited hook that has technology connected to it so when the bait is taken, a message is sent to our vessels and they'll attend those lines immediately.

"They will then tag and release the sharks that are caught on those. So they're very different to the traditional drum lines which could have sharks sitting on them for days before they're checked."

Under the Aus $16m shark strategy, helicopter surveillance will also be increased over popular beaches.
NSW has ruled out culling sharks despite the spike in attacks this year.

A Japanese surfer died in February after his legs were bitten off by a shark and there have been 12 other serious attacks up and down the 1,200-mile coast.

There were only three attacks in the state in 2014.

Mr Blair said: "There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers.

"We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find an effective long-term solution to keep our beaches safe."

Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but fatalities remain rare.

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