Shark nets on Illawarra beaches caught almost 450 marine animals between 2012 and 2020 and only 34 of these creatures were target shark species, data shows.
And next week, Wollongong City councillor Cath Blakey will call on her fellow councillors to support a submission to NSW's shark management strategy review that will voice opposition to the use of shark nets as a risk mitigation measure.
The Department of Primary Industry figures on the shark nets, obtained by Cr Blakey, show 258 of the 447 animals caught in shark nets on Wollongong and Royal National Park beaches from 2012 to 2020 died - and 167 of these were threatened or protected species.
Among the threatened marine animals that died were four turtles, two dolphins, and 30 hammerhead sharks.
Nets are placed off five beaches within the Wollongong local government area each summer: Coledale, Austinmer, Thirroul, North Wollongong, and City Beach.
Almost 150 animals died in these nets, 102 of them threatened or protected species.
"They're having a terrible toll on wildlife," Cr Blakey said.
The nets do not act as a complete barrier and a committee advising the DPI has found 40 per cent of entangled sharks are on the beach side of the net.
"Shark nets really give us a false sense of security," Cr Blakey said.
The five-year NSW Shark Management Strategy focused on trialling other technologies to minimise the risk of shark bites to beachgoers, including drones, SMART drumlines - which intercept sharks and allow researchers to tag them - and listening stations, which detect tagged sharks within 500 metres and send out an alert.
Cr Blakey said options such as these were safer for both humans and wildlife.
The DPI found drones were the most effective shark detection and surveillance tool, and was the most preferred mitigation strategy within the community.
Cr Blakey's proposed council submission voices support for drone and helicopter surveillance, listening stations, personal shark deterrent devices, and SMART drumlines, but opposes the use of nets.
If the council supports the motion at next Monday's meeting, it will not be the first time they will have voiced their opposition to shark nets.
In 2019, following a motion from Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, the council wrote to Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall seeking to stop the use of nets along Wollongong beaches and replace them with SMART drumlines.
A response from DPI Fisheries on Mr Marshall's behalf said there had been a reduction in interactions with sharks at netted beaches in NSW, Queensland and South Africa, and the government would consider the results of its strategy to inform future mitigation measures.
Councillors will vote on Cr Blakey's motion on Monday, April 19.
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