Sustaining Coastal & Marine Zones

Project Airship


About the project

Managing shark-human interactions is a key social and environmental challenge. Sharks pose some risk to public safety; however, societies have a social and environmental responsibility to develop strategies that effectively keep people safe and minimise harm to the environment.

The Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program NSW, in place since 1937, is a hazard mitigation strategy that is causing harm to vulnerable species (Davis & Broad, 2016). The Program is listed as a Key Threatening Process by the NSW Scientific Committee. With effectiveness of meshing hotly debated, a non-lethal, scientifically proven strategy is needed to assure public safety in the ocean. Project AIRSHIP is a low-cost shark spotting program providing continuous coverage of a swim zone or surf bank.

About the researchers

Project AirshipThis project brings together a number of disciplines. 

Professor Andy Davis from the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health is a marine ecologist with long-held interest in human impacts on aquatic systems. His interest in shark meshing and its impacts was piqued when he served on the Fisheries Scientific Committee in 2014-15 to assess the status of vulnerable aquatic species in NSW. Prof. Davis explored alternatives to shark meshing in UOW’ Big Ideas festival in 2015.

Mr Kye Adams from the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, is a surfer, professional lifeguard and PhD student at UOW who is passionate about finding a sustainable solution to managing shark-human interactions. Kye devised project AIRSHIP, and secured seed funding from state government and Save Our Seas Foundation to purchase infrastructure. He designed prototypes and has conducted equipment testing. Kye was an award winner in the 2016 UOW Pitch Competition and the 2016 UOW's Global Challenges Travel Scholarship Video Challenge

Dr Leah Gibbs is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research examines cultures and politics of nature, and environmental governance. Dr Gibbs has worked on human-shark encounter for several years, has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the subject, contributed to a Parliamentary Inquiry and legal case, and participated in extensive media work around the topic.

Associate Professor Wanqing Li from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, is Co-Director of the Advanced Multimedia Research Lab (AMRL). His research areas include computer vision and multimedia signal processing with focus on object detection and motion analysis from images and video. He has published over 135 refereed papers in these areas.  

Ms Allison Broad from the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, has worked in marine science for approximately 10 years. She is a skilled field worker and experienced project manager. She has developed a network of marine management and policy contacts in NSW and beyond. She feels strongly about improving outcomes for threatened and vulnerable marine life and facilitating change through good science and communication.  

Last reviewed: 3 September, 2018