Turtles, dolphins, stingrays and non-targeted sharks were 17 times more likely to be trapped in shark nets across Illawarra beaches, new data shows.
From September 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019 shark nets were installed at Coledale, Austinmer, Thirroul, North Wollongong, and South Wollongong and in the Royal National Park at Wattamolla and Garie.
The NSW Department of Industries released an annual performance report on its shark nets program. The nets are designed to intercept sharks near meshed beaches, which reduces the chance of a shark interaction.
Only five targeted sharks including Tiger and White species were killed in Illawarra nets.
There were 39 non-targeted sharks including smooth hammerheads and one critically endangered grey nurse shark ensnared; and there were 33 stingrays captured.
One common dolphin and five green and loggerhead turtles were trapped in the nets.
Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society say the Berejiklian Government must now call time on the NSW shark meshing program.
Humane Society International marine campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck said the NSW Department of Primary Industries was making great progress to implement alternatives that did not cost marine lives and were more effective at protecting ocean users.
"These include drone surveys and technology driven alert systems, personal shark deterrents and education," he said.
"The shark nets do nothing to protect people and the government really needs to move on from them.
"We don't need another netting season that will cost more wildlife."
A department spokeswoman said there were no serious injuries from shark bites at a netted beach over the 12 month period, which included 51 beaches off Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
She said the state government's $16 million Shark Management Strategy was trialling new and emerging technologies to increase protection for beachgoers while minimising the impact on sharks and other marine life.
"The strategy includes trials of shark detection and deterrent technologies, as well as funding science, research, education and community awareness," she said.
Mr Chlebeck said shark culling or nets did not protect people because since the introduction of the shark meshing program in 1937, there have been 34 unprovoked shark interactions at meshed beaches.
"The only reason we have nets is because of a false sense of security from those who are unfamiliar with the subject," he said.
"Often when people find out how many wildlife are killed they say to get rid of the nets.
"A big part of the solution to the problem is education about how the nets don't protect people and kill wildlife."
Mr Chlebeck said social attitudes towards nets, which had been around for 90 years, would take time to change and therefore the Humane Society International would continue to lobby politicians to expand alternative programs.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully said in the absence of an alternative, then the nets would have to stay into the future.
"If a better more marine animal-friendly option is available that provides the same level of comfort and protection to ocean users than I would be happy to support it," he said.
"The government should look at expanding trails of SMART drumlines."