In Australia, sharks are taken by commercial, Indigenous, recreational and game fishers and in shark control devices for bather protection. Sharks are taken as target species and also as incidental catch that is retained or discarded. Sharks generally have a low reproduction rate, mature late and have small populations. As a result, sharks may be susceptible to overfishing and can be slow to recover if overfished.
Sharks are valued for their contribution to the marine environment where they often fill the role of peak predator. Legislation in some states and territories and the Commonwealth provides for the listing and protection of threatened shark species. Currently there are thirteen shark species that are protected in Australian waters.
Australia acknowledges that sharks are an important part of the total quantity of Australia’s wild fish production and that Australian vessels take sharks as target and non-target catch.
Fisheries management in Australia is generally of a high standard. Each of the target shark fisheries is subject to formal management arrangements. Australia continues to review its management arrangements to ensure the species is managed using the most current scientific and biological information.
International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA – Sharks)
In recognition of the expanding global catch of sharks and the potential negative impacts on shark populations, an International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) was adopted by the 23rd session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) Committee on Fisheries in 1999.
The IPOA-Sharks is a voluntary international instrument developed so that nations can take positive action to ensure the conservation and management of sharks, and their long-term sustainable use.
For more information about the IPOA Sharks visit the UN FAO website.
As a member of the UN FAO, Australia developed its first National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (Shark-plan 1) in 2004 to provide guidance to fisheries and conservation managers and the public to improve conservation and management of sharks. Shark-Plan 1 details actions to encourage the effective and sustainable management of Australia’s shark populations.
In July 2012, following a review of Shark-plan 1, the former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, released Australia’s second National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2012 (Shark-plan 2).