The NSW Government’s Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program includes 51 beaches between Newcastle and Wollongong.

These beaches are netted by contractors using specially designed meshing nets to reduce the chances of shark encounters.

The nets do not create a total barrier between swimmers and sharks. They are designed to intercept sharks near meshed beaches, which reduces the chance of a shark interaction.

While the nets cannot provide a guarantee that a shark interaction will never happen, we believe they have been effective in greatly reducing the potential number of interactions.

Since the introduction of the shark meshing program in 1937, there have been 34 unprovoked shark interactions at meshed beaches:

  • 1 fatality;
  • 24 serious or minor injuries; and
  • 9 incidents where the person was not bitten.

In the majority of interactions (12) the species was not identified; nine were attributed to Wobbegong sharks; seven to White sharks; four to unidentified Whaler sharks; one to a Bull shark; and one to a Tiger shark.

The shark meshing program operates under a the 2017 joint management agreement (JMA) (PDF, 287.52 KB) and management plan (PDF, 308.92 KB), which was informed by the five-year review of the two 2009 JMAs and management plan and public consultation.

Where in NSW? North coast

Trial or research? Trial now complete

Two shark nets trials were undertaken at five beach locations on the North Coast of NSW: Lennox Head, Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina) Lighthouse Beach (Ballina) and Evans Head.

Trial one was undertaken from 8 December 2016 and 30 May 2017 and trial two was undertaken from 23 November 2017 and 2 May 2018.

Research results

Shark observation grant program

Applications for the last funding round closed on 23 November 2018.

The NSW government makes more than $200,000 available each year for new observation equipment (including towers), emergency evacuation alarms and communication systems on beaches or beach headlands for effective shark detection and community awareness. This funding is managed by DPI through a grant application process.

Observation towers are useful for spotting sharks as well as spotting people in distress and for offering a clear line of vision when there is a big swell. Funding is not available for jet skis.

Who could apply?

Applications for funding were sought from groups such as surf lifesaving clubs or local councils interested in installing observation towers in coastal areas of NSW. Joint applications were encouraged.

Applications included mobile structures or to complement fixed observation tower projects.

How are funds spent?

The Deputy Director General DPI Fisheries receives advice from a Technical Assessment Panel that reviews all applications according to the evaluation criteria and makes recommendations for funding priorities.

All eligible applications are evaluated against the criteria below:

  • Number of beachgoers at the beach annually;
  • Existing observation equipment or facilities at the beach;
  • Number of sharks sighted in the past two years and frequency of sightings near swimmers;
  • Number of hours the equipment will be in use annually;
  • Level of funding requested and funding from other sources; and
  • Ongoing maintenance of facilities by applicant.

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