The Greens are calling on the New South Wales Government to phase out its Shark Meshing Program after new data showed the measures had killed hundreds of other sea creatures.
The latest report on the New South Wales shark netting program revealed 133 target sharks were caught along with 615 non-target marine animals off beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle.
Almost half of the animals caught perished in the netting.
The report revealed 90 threatened or protected species were caught in the nets during the 2015-16 season.
Greens spokesman Justin Field said the “culling program” should be replaced with non-lethal solutions.
“Laid out nose to tail the marine animals killed by this program including dolphins, rays, turtles and non-threatening sharks would stretch half the length of Bondi Beach,” he said.
“People would be shocked to know that some of the dolphins they have enjoyed watching playing in the waves have ended up dead in New South Wales shark nets.”
The annual review showed several shark nets along the coastline had been damaged by vandalism and severe weather.
The Department of Primary Industries also released the results of the shark net trial on the New South Wales north coast.
Figures showed 43 animals were snared by the nets installed at five beaches between Lennox Head and Evans Head last month.
A great white and two tiger sharks were successfully released but a bottlenose dolphin and a green turtle were among 12 animals found dead in the mesh.
Mayor of Ballina Shire Council David Wright said the installation of shark nets had rejuvenated tourism on the state’s far north coast.
“It’s totally different to last Christmas,” he said. “Our businesses that are right on the shoreline and depend on tourists, they’ve done exceptionally well, particularly Lennox Head.”
Director-general of the Department of Primary Industries Scott Hanson said the first month of shark meshing had been extremely encouraging.
“The purpose of the nets on the north coast has been to minimise the risks to swimmers and surfers from interaction with sharks [and] to restore confidence to the beach-going community on the north coast about our ability to reduce their risk, whilst at the same time minimising interactions with marine life,” he said.