DATA on bycatch shows shark nets must be banned in Newcastle in NSW's Hunter region, the Animal Justice Party claims.
The party on Monday said the data shows at least 67 animals have died in Newcastle shark nets over the past nine years including three whales and dolphins, five turtles, and 55 threatened or protected species.
In Lake Macquarie at least 254 animals have died, the data acquired by the party shows. That toll includes four whales and dolphins. Other casualties included three turtles and 147 "threatened or protected species".
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Animal Justice Party Newcastle regional group leader Darren Brollo said the "unforgivable" toll made it clear a ban on nets was needed.
"Shark nets are cruel, indiscriminate and ineffective," he said. "They have no place on the beaches here in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie or anywhere across NSW.
"Over half the animals including dolphins, whales and turtles unfortunate enough to become entangled in these deadly nets, will suffer a slow and painful death by drowning.
"These figures are shocking but they likely don't even cover the true death toll. Animals found and released from shark nets are not guaranteed survival because the stress and injury of entanglement often leads to their death soon after.
The Newcastle Herald reported in March that more than 80 per cent of sharks caught in nets off the Hunter and Central Coast from 2009 to 2019 died before they could be released, according to Department of Primary Industries data.