Shifts in the incidence of shark bites and efficacy of beach-focussed mitigation in Australia

Charlie Huveneers*, Craig Blount*, Corey Bradshaw, Paul Butcher, Marcus Lincoln Smith, William MacBeth, Daryl Peter McPhee, Natalie Moltschaniwskyj, Victor Peddemors, Marcel Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Shark-human interactions are some of the most pervasive human-wildlife conflicts, and their frequencies are increasing globally. New South Wales (Australia) was the first to implement a broad-scale program of shark-bite mitigation in 1937 using shark nets, which expanded in the late 2010s to include non-lethal measures. Using 196 unprovoked shark-human interactions recorded in New South Wales since 1900, we show that bites shifted from being predominantly on swimmers to 79 % on surfers by the 1980s and increased 2–4-fold. We could not detect differences in the interaction rate at netted versus non-netted beaches since the 2000s, partly because of low incidence and high variance. Although shark-human interactions continued to occur at beaches with tagged-shark listening stations, there were no interactions while SMART drumlines and/or drones were deployed. Our effect-size analyses show that a small increase in the difference between mitigated and non-mitigated beaches could indicate reductions in shark-human interactions. Area-based protection alone is insufficient to reduce shark-human interactions, so we propose a new, globally transferable approach to minimise risk of shark bite more effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115855
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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