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Globally, sharks and rays are under increasing pressure, with a quarter of the known species threatened with an elevated risk of extinction according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

Given the global threats to sharks, and the concerns about the status of this group of key marine predators, it is important that the status of this group in Australian waters is considered to ensure that there is a broad understanding of their status to make sure that environmental managers, policy makers, advocacy groups and the public can act to address any concerns. This Report Card for Australia’s Sharks is designed to fulfil this purpose. It reports the status of all species of sharks and shark-like rays to provide a snapshot of the health of Australia’s stocks.

 

The Australian Shark Report Card presents a systematic assessment of the status of all of Australia’s sharks, as well as rays with shark-like bodies (sawfishes, wedgefishes, guitarfishes, giant guitarfish, and banjo rays; also referred to as shark-like rays). Importantly, the Report Card covers all Australian sharks, the majority of which are probably unknown to most Australians. In doing so, the Report Card provides a scientifically robust account of what is happening to Australia’s shark resources, identifying the species and stocks that are currently healthy and likely to be healthy into the future, and those species that are in decline and need further management intervention and conservation.

Summary Status of Australia's Shark Stocks

Species assessed

Australia is home to more than a quarter of the worlds species of shark’s, rays and chimaeras. This Report Card covers all of Australia’s known species of sharks, and the rays that have bodies like sharks.

194

Sustainable stocks

Stocks that have been assessed to be sustainable at current levels of fishing. Many are managed through fishing regulations. Others are sustainable because the level of fisheries take is very small. Example: Gummy Shark (Mustelus antarcticus; southern stock)

124

Recovering stocks

Stocks that have declined in the past, but through improved management and protection are recovering. Example: Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos).

9

Declining stocks

Stocks that are taken in fisheries and have declined in abundance, but not below levels that can be sustained. Need to be carefully monitored and managed. Example: Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus).

6

Depleted stocks 

Stocks that have been adversely affected by fishing. Most are already protected or being actively managed for recovery. Only 2 species lack sufficient management. Example: Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus; east coast stock).

18

Undefined stocks 

Some species are extremely rare or have very limited information on which to base assessments. These species require more data collection but are not believed to be at immediate risk from human pressures. Example: Blotched Catshark (Asymbolus funebris)

42

While the results of this assessment demonstrate that Australia has done a good job managing its sharks, it is important that these efforts are maintained.

Management of fisheries falls to state, Territory and Commonwealth fisheries agencies. However, the Department of the Environment and Energy also plays an important role through the EPBC and Wildlife Trade Operation certification processes that ensures fisheries management meets Australia’s Ecologically Sustainable Development guidelines.

 

There is also some coordination of the management of sharks through:

The results of this Report Card should contribute to all of these management processes to enable the best possible management of Australia’s sharks.