There have been calls from environmentalists, residents and politicians to pull shark nets from the water permanently, with data from the Humane Society International (HSI) finding that they are doing greater harm than good.

The Humane Society International (HSI) has released data from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) confirming that 90 per cent of marine life caught in shark nets since last September has been non-target species.

From September 1 to April 11, 134 non-target animals were found to have died as a result of shark nets – 26 of these were found in the Illawarra.

It comes as shark nets were removed from 51 beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong last month but are due to be re-established in September as part of the state government’s annual shark meshing program.

A HAI spokesperson said not a single great white, tiger or bull shark was caught in the Sydney metro region last year.

Some of the deaths have been of critically endangered species including 5 grey nurse sharks, 4 leatherback turtles and 1 loggerhead turtle.

A regular surfer and UOW student, Emily Shillington says that she does not even think about the shark nets when she enters the water.

“I think that if it is affecting the ocean ecosystems and marine life more than it is providing safety; especially since we are entering their home, then yeah take them out.”

Amongst the captured non-target species only 36 per cent of them were released alive, which is nearly stagnant to the data of the 2022-2023 net season – demonstrating a clear consistency in the effectiveness of the program.

Liberal MP for Terrigal, Adam Crouch told ABC News that it’s time the state government acted, with the community tired of the ineffectiveness of the mesh net program.

“The shark nets do not discriminate, and NSW has the best-funded and most advanced shark risk strategy in the world… so it’s time to retire the ineffective and destructive nets,”  the HSI spokesperson said.

An independent poll was also commissioned by the HSI, concluding that 4 out of 5 Australians assume personal responsibility when entering the ocean as they recognise it is home to many dangers, including sharks.

Ms Shillington continued, “These statistics should easily warrant their removal, they are clearly not doing what they’re designed to do and it’s about time we accept that so we can not only make our oceans safe for us, but safer for marine life too.”

The HSI continues to urge the NSW government to make 2023/2024 the last season of the shark meshing program and encourages NSW residents to sign the removal petition at

Additional Reporting: Josh Hutchinson