Assessment of a data-limited, multi-species shark fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Published online on 02. February 2016
Assessment of a data-limited, multi-species shark fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and south-east Queensland
Alastair V. Harry, Richard J. Saunders, Jonathan J. Smart, Peter M. Yates,
Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Andrew J. Tobin
The status of five species of commercially exploited sharks within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) and south-east Queensland was assessed using a data-limited approach. Annual harvest rate, U, estimated empirically from tagging between 2011 and 2013, was compared with an analytically-derived proxy for optimal equilibrium harvest rate, UMSYLim. Median estimates of U for three principal retained species, Australian blacktip shark, Carcharhinus tilstoni, spot-tail shark, Carcharhinus sorrah, and spinner shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna, were 0.10, 0.06 and 0.07 year−1, respectively. Median U for two retained, non-target species, pigeye shark, Carcharhinus amboinensis and Australian sharpnose shark, Rhizoprionodon taylori, were 0.27 and 0.01 year−1, respectively. For all species except the Australian blacktip the median ratio of U/UMSYLim was <1. The high vulnerability of this species to fishing combined with life history characteristics meant UMSYLim was low (0.04–0.07 year−1) and that U/UMSYLim was likely to be >1. Harvest of the Australian blacktip shark above UMSY could place this species at a greater risk of localised depletion in parts of the GBRMP. Results of the study indicated that much higher catches, and presumably higher U, during the early 2000s were likely unsustainable. The unexpectedly high level of U on the pigeye shark indicated that output-based management controls may not have been effective in reducing harvest levels on all species, particularly those caught incidentally by other fishing sectors including the recreational sector.
Fisheries Research Volume 177, May 2016, Pages 104–115, doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2015.12.008