Drone technology has become increasingly popular in recent years, and with it comes the need for regulations to ensure the safety of both the drone operators and the environment. In Shark Bay Marine National Park, located in Western Australia, drone regulations have been put in place to protect the park’s unique ecosystem.
The Shark Bay Marine National Park is a World Heritage Site and is home to a diverse range of marine life, including dugongs, dolphins, and sea turtles. The park also has a significant cultural and historical value, with evidence of human occupation dating back over 30,000 years.
To protect the park’s natural and cultural values, the Western Australian Government has implemented drone regulations that apply to all areas within the park. These regulations are in line with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) regulations for drones, which apply to all drones flown in Australia.
Under the regulations, drone operators must obtain a permit from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) before flying their drone in the park. The permit application process involves providing details about the drone, the operator’s experience, and the purpose of the flight.
The regulations also specify that drones must not be flown within 30 meters of any marine mammals, including dugongs, dolphins, and whales. This is to prevent any disturbance to these animals, which can be easily frightened by the sound and presence of drones.
Additionally, drones must not be flown within 10 meters of any sea turtles or their nests. Sea turtles are a vulnerable species, and their nests are protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Flying drones too close to these nests can cause the turtles to abandon their eggs or hatchlings, which can have a significant impact on their survival.
The regulations also prohibit drones from being flown in any areas of the park that are designated as no-fly zones. These areas include the Francois Peron National Park, the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, and the Monkey Mia Reserve.
The regulations also require drone operators to follow CASA’s regulations for drone flights, which include keeping the drone within visual line of sight, flying no higher than 120 meters, and not flying over people or property without permission.
Enforcement of the regulations is carried out by park rangers, who have the authority to confiscate drones and issue fines to operators who breach the regulations. The fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the breach.
Overall, the drone regulations in Shark Bay Marine National Park are designed to protect the park’s unique ecosystem and cultural values while allowing drone operators to enjoy the park’s beauty and capture stunning aerial footage. By obtaining a permit and following the regulations, drone operators can ensure that they are not causing any harm to the park’s wildlife or environment and can enjoy their drone flights with peace of mind.