Humane Society International (HSI) Australia has released new data from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) that shows NSW shark nets caught 208 non-target** wildlife since the nets returned to waters on 1 September 2023, with 134 of those animals found dead. 

HSI Australia was able to obtain the ‘catch’ data for NSW’s Shark Meshing Program from 1 September 2023 until 11 April 2024 under a Freedom of Information process, which found: 

  • Five Critically Endangered grey nurse sharks were found dead, as well as four Endangered Leatherback turtles and an Endangered Loggerhead turtle, all of which are serious blows to these imperilled species. 
  • A staggering 93% of marine animals caught in NSW shark nets during the 2023-2024 season were non-target species such as whales, turtles, dolphins, rays and smaller or non-aggressive sharks.
  • Of the total non-target animals caught, only 36% were released alive (74 animals). These statistics are almost identical to the numbers from the 2022 – 2023 net season.


This data is normally released publicly each year in late July, just weeks before nets return for the next season. This new data comes as the nets are due to be removed from beaches today at the end of the 23/24 net season. 

As the nets leave our ocean waters, Humane Society International (HSI) Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) are urging the NSW Government to ensure this is the last time NSW beaches deploy the outdated devices.

Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Biologist and Campaigner at HSI Australia said: “Shark nets don’t discriminate. Year after year, nine out of 10 animals caught in the nets are non-target species, and without providing any benefit to public safety. It’s why NSW beachside communities are fed up with these wildlife death traps.

“The Minns Government inherited this outdated technology that has been used since the 1930s. But they don’t need to stick with it. There has been over $85 million committed to modern shark management which is now fully operational on our beaches and much more effective at keeping us safe. 

“NSW has the best-funded and most advanced shark risk strategy in the world, so it’s time the Minns Government retired the ineffective and destructive nets.” 

Dr Leonardo Guida, shark scientist at AMCS said: “Modern alternatives to nets are already working and in place after more than a decade of development, minus the horrific bycatch numbers. There are SMART drumlines and drones in use at every beach where there is a net.

“Public sentiment and the science are in alignment—let’s keep the nets out and the drones up.”

NSW’s Shark Meshing Program sees nets installed on beaches from Newcastle to Wollongong, every September through April. Every beach where a net is installed already has alternative shark safety measures in place such as SMART drumlines, alert systems and drone surveillance. These technologies have been in use on our beaches and thoroughly tested for the last decade. 

Independent polling commissioned by HSI Australia* found that the majority of Australians recognise that the ocean is home to wildlife first and foremost. The survey found that 4 in 5 Australians (and 83% of New South Wales residents) recognise they are entering shark habitat when they swim in the ocean and assume personal responsibility. 

HSI Australia and AMCS are calling on the NSW government to rely on the modern, non-lethal protection programs that the NSW DPI has spent the last decade developing, which are already available and in place across our beaches. 

The wildlife conservation organisations are encouraging NSW residents to take action at



Humane Society International (HSI) is the world’s largest animal protection organisation and HSI Australia established our office in 1994. We work to create a humane and sustainable world for animals advocating across wildlife conservation and animal welfare policy areas.

*Independent polling conducted by Pure Profile who surveyed 1,000 respondents, population proportionate across Australia. 

**Target species include White Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks.

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