The 41-day trial over the summer saw pilots fly 92,929km over the NSW coastline.
An on-board camera provided real-time coastal vision of Ballina, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Redhead, and Kiama.
Over the trial period:
• Drones sighted 46 potentially dangerous sharks
• Helicopter crews reported 525 shark sightings
• Eight evacuations were made by drones
• Helicopter crews notified beach authorities 167 times when a shark was in close proximity to beachgoers
• A total of 78 water evacuations were initiated by helicopter crews when sharks were within 100m of water users.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said pilots carried purpose-built radios for direct communication with beach authorities, plus a siren and PA system to communicate with those in the water.
"As drone technology continues to rapidly develop and the cost of operating them declines, it presents a unique opportunity for the NSW Government to work with local governments and explore options for their future use in shark mitigation measures."
Surveillance from the air complements the government’s other measures under the $16 million shark management strategy, including shark tagging, shark net trials, SMART drumlines and VR4G listening stations.