Fourteen dolphins were found dead in shark nets installed at NSW beaches during last financial year, amid a surge in the numbers of marine creatures caught.
The latest report on the NSW shark netting program shows four common dolphins, nine bottlenose dolphins and one unidentified, decomposed dolphin were part of 90 threatened or protected species caught in the nets during 2015-16 season.
Also caught were 31 white sharks (21 dead), 19 grey nurse sharks (five dead), one dead hammerhead shark, 24 varieties of turtle (19 dead) and a dead seabird.
By comparison, there were three dead common dolphins caught in nets in 2014-15 among 23 protected or threatened species.
The Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program Annual Performance Report, covering 51 beaches off Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, says there were 748 "marine life interactions" with the nets during the period.
This is significantly higher than the 189 recorded during the 2014-15 season.
Of these, 133 were with target sharks and 615 with "non-target marine life" including non-target sharks (145), rays (425) and dolphins (14).
The largest increase was in the number of stingrays caught in nets, which leapt from 86 to 425.
Target sharks caught increased from 44 to 133 and non-target sharks from 50 to 145.
Of the 748 animals caught 384, or 51 per cent, were released alive – a 12 per cent improvement on the previous financial year.
The capture of the four dead common dolphins and five dead hawksbill turtles has triggered a review of the reasons.
Overall, the report says during 2015-16 there were 11 shark attacks in NSW, none fatal, but only one at a netted beach, Cronulla, while nets were set.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries has also released figures for the first month of its six-month shark net trial on the state's North Coast.
Between December 9 and January 7 across the five beaches netted there were 43 marine creatures caught, across 12 species. Of these, 73 per cent, or 31, were released alive and the other 12 were dead.
Of targeted sharks, one white shark and two tiger sharks were caught in nets at Sharpes Beach and tagged and relocated. One bull shark, found dead, was caught at Lighthouse Beach.
The director-general of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Scott Hansen, said the number of animals caught in nets fluctuated each year.
But opposition primary industries spokesman Mick Veitch said: "We all know the shark meshing program has an impact on other marine life.
"I am very concerned at the sharp increase in the marine life captured and really question the government's resourcing of this program."
NSW Greens marine and fisheries spokesman Justin Field said there was no evidence shark nets kept people safe and the report "once again proves that mesh nets kill large numbers of threatened species and harmless marine animals".