BY XANTHE GREGORY
Hunter and Central Coast shark nets are sparking concern for marine life along the coastline.
The latest report from the state government shows almost half of the 141 marine animals caught in nets between Stockton and Shelly Beach were killed.
The netting program has been criticised for harming untargeted creatures including 71 rays, three turtles and two dolphins which are endangered.
University of Newcastle Marine Biologist David Powter says "Only about 6% of the total catch consists of those target species and the other 94% consists of a whole range of other marine organisms that pose either an incredibly small or absolutely no risk whatsoever to bathers."
As well as by-catch issues, the nets have been criticised because they are only 150 metres wide and do not reach the top of the water.
David Powter says "What you have is a net that has hundreds of metres either side of it and four to six metres of water open above it."
He says the nets have a high mortality rate for marine life whilst providing little other than an illusion of safety for the public.
"I believe that they create a false sense of security," said David Powter.
The Greens have also called for an end to the netting program.