New Shocking Data Reveals Endangered Species Caught in New South Wales Shark Nets

Wednesday, 27 Jul, 2022

New data released by the NSW Department of Primary Industries has shown that during the 2021-2022 season, 325 of the 376 animals caught in New South Wales (NSW) shark nets were non-target species, totalling 86.4%. These animals include sea turtles, rays, a dolphin and a humpback whale. 

Shockingly, a further 22% of the animals caught from September 2021 - April 2022 were threatened or endangered species.

“​​Australia has a global responsibility to protect vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species, and here we have the NSW Government actively continuing their killing nets off our coasts, targeting all marine life whose path they cross with a cruel, painful and barbaric end. It’s time the NSW Government left 1930’s solutions in the dark ages and scrapped these curtains of death now.”

- Sea Shepherd Australia’s Managing Director, Jeff Hansen

Sea Shepherd Australia’s Threatened and Endangered Species Campaigner Lauren Sandeman said, “Given the shocking details in the 2021 State of the Environment Report, this assault on threatened and endangered species is indefensible. They’re catching anything but what they’re endeavouring to, and our ocean wildlife is paying the price.” 

“19 Green Turtles and 16 Leatherback turtles were caught this season, tripping the trigger point for the program requiring that NSW take action to reduce the program's impact on these species. The easiest way to do this would be to remove the nets entirely.”

A loggerhead turtle caught in a shark net.

NSW’s shark net program currently consists of 51 nets from Newcastle to Wollongong that are deployed for eight months each year. The nets are removed during four months of the annual migration of humpback whales due to the fatal risk they pose.

Sea Shepherd is calling for the permanent removal of shark nets in NSW to finalise the state's commitment to modern, non-lethal technologies such as drone surveillance that has seen rapid investment and deployment in recent years.

This plan is supported by the majority of NSW councils with a unanimous resolution passed by Local Government NSW in March this year requesting that the NSW Government phases out the use of shark nets. 

"The NSW government has the support of every council, the support of the communities, and the support of experts for the permanent removal of shark nets. The state is already on the cusp of being a world leader for a modern standard of beach safety with an array of non-lethal technologies deployed at this very moment. The only thing remaining is a public commitment from the government for the permanent removal of shark nets, stopping their return in September for another season of senseless destruction."

- Lauren Sandeman, Threatened & Endangered Species Campaigner
Smooth hammerhead sharks killed in NSW shark nets. Image: NSW DPI, obtained via GIPA

Threatened and Endangered Species Caught in NSW Shark Nets in 2021/22

- 28 white sharks (18 dead, 10 released alive) Vulnerable

- 19 Green turtles (14 dead) Vulnerable

- 16 leatherback turtles (5 dead) Endangered

- 14 Grey nurse sharks (5 dead) Critically Endangered

- 2 Great hammerhead sharks (all dead) Critically Endangered

- 4 loggerhead turtles (2 dead) Endangered

- 1 common dolphin (dead) Protected



Sea Shepherd's Shark Defence Campaign


Our Shark Defence Campaign continues to shed much-needed light on the destructive nature of state-sanctioned shark culling programs through investigation, documentation and publication. By bringing our message to the Australian public, we are mobilising support for the long-term protection of sharks under Australia’s environment laws. 


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