Footage of endangered sharks entangled in nets along a NSW beach has renewed calls for the state government to end its controversial mesh net program.
Scalloped hammerhead sharks, which are listed as endangered by the NSW Department of Primary and Industries, are seen caught and wrapped up in the nets at Sydney's Palm Beach earlier this year.
The video and photos were released on Tuesday by conservation groups Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
“Life is hard enough for a shark, especially a juvenile like this one,” one person wrote on Humane Society International Australia’s post.
“But this is a really, really, really hard way to die. No dignity whatsoever and all life deserves to be treated with dignity.”
“Horrible what we do to others,” another wrote.
AMCS shark campaigner Leonardo Guida claims the nets are ineffective at keeping swimmers safe and instead drown iconic and harmless animals.
"The science shows that there is no evidence between the abundance of sharks and the likelihood of being bitten," Dr Guida said in a statement on Tuesday.
Since the nets were introduced in 1937 between Newcastle and Wollongong there has been one fatal shark attack and 33 "unprovoked interactions" at netted beaches, the DPI said.
More than 400 marine animals were caught in the nets between September 2017 and April 2018 including 34 "target" sharks and 369 non-target animals with 180 released alive, according to the DPI's annual meshing program report.
The government considers tiger, white and bull sharks as target species.
The nets captured 70 threatened or protected species including grey nurse and great hammerhead sharks, green and hawksbill turtles and common and Indo-Pacific dolphins.
‘Shark nets an outdated technology’
HSI marine campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck argues the NSW government is using nets to catch and kill sharks to reduce their population along the coast.
"Shark nets are the most indiscriminate and deadly of the culling methods used in Australia," Mr Chlebeck said in a statement.
Conservationists argue drones and wearable shark deterrents are more effective at keeping beachgoers safe.
The DPI's data from the 2018 and 2019 mesh net season is due to be released in July.
Former Greens and now independent MP Justin Field backed the call to move towards non-lethal shark management strategies.
"It's clear that shark nets are an outdated technology with no place in a modern, evidence-based approach to managing the risk of shark bites at our beaches," Mr Field said in a statement on Tuesday.
The NSW government has been contacted for comment.
Conservationists previously slammed Queensland’s decision to cull sharks following a spate of attacks last year.
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