A Bottlenose Dolphin and a Green Sea Turtle were among 12 animals killed by newly installed shark nets along the north coast in the first month of their operation.
Of the 43 animals caught in the nets, just one white shark and a bull shark were caught, with the bull shark among 12 animals that died.
The net at Lennox Head killed a Australian Cownose Ray, a Longtail Tuna, two Hammerhead Sharks and a Bottlenose Dolphin.
No deaths were recorded at Sharpes and Shelley beaches in Ballina, although Lighthouse Beach accounted for two dead Hammerhead sharks, an Australian Cownose Ray and a Bull Shark.
At Evans Head the net killed two Australian Cownose Rays and a Green Turtle.
The North Coast Shark Net Trial report covers the period 8 December 2016 to 7 January 2017.
Greens MLC Justin Field said the north coast trial had ‘failed to capture many target sharks and is having a disproportionate impact on harmless marine animals just like the wider NSW plan is having’.
‘People would be shocked to know that one of the dolphins or turtle they have enjoyed watching playing in the waves or cruising the local beach over the Christmas break has ended up dead in one of the shark nets,’ Mr Field said.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) put a different spin on the results, pointing out that 72 per cent of the marine animals were successfully released.
Four sharks from targeted species (White Shark, two Tiger Sharks and one Bull Shark) were caught in the nets. Three of these sharks were tagged, released and relocated alive in deeper waters,’ the DPI said in a media release.
NSW DPI Director General, Scott Hansen, said DPI was committed to doing all it could to ensure captured animals were released as soon as possible.
‘These nets have provided greater peace of mind to the community particularly during the school holidays,’ Mr Hansen said.
Meanwhile, the state-wide 2015/2016 state wide shark meshing program tripped trigger points for the number of Common Dolphins and Hawksbill Turtles killed by the nets which will force a review of the program.
The state-wide results showed that shark mesh nets at 51 beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle caught 748 marine animals and killed 364 of them in the 2015/2016 year. There was a dramatic four-fold increase in the number of animals caught and 300 per cent increase in marine animals found dead in the nets.
Mr. Field said the results showed the program was not effective.
‘At the same time the Government was planning to roll out new shark mesh nets on the North Coast where dolphins and turtle are prevalent, they were sitting on data that showed the existing nets with dolphin deterrent devices weren’t working effectively,’ he said.
‘It’s time we phased out this culling program and replaced it with non-lethal solutions.
‘The shark mesh net program provides questionable protection to NSW swimmers and divers but costs a fortune in terms of destruction to our wildlife and dollars spent.
‘There are non-lethal alternatives to shark mesh nets including community observer programs, better resources for lifeguards, smart drum lines and personal deterrent devices.
‘We should be phasing out these destructive nets and modernising swimmer protection at NSW beaches. ‘