Large whaler sharks: study to investigate best management

News Release

NSW Department of Primary Industries

18 Jun 2012

A two year study into the ecology, population, movements and distribution of Sandbar and Dusky Whaler Sharks has commenced with researchers from NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) investigating how best to manage whaler shark stocks in NSW waters.

The research will investigate ways to reduce unwanted catch and any environmental impacts of the large shark fishery.

Shark scientist with NSW DPI, Dr Vic Peddemors, said that whaler sharks were acknowledged as being susceptible to over-fishing due to their long life span, late age at sexual maturity, and low numbers of pups born.

“The commercial fishery for large sharks in NSW has recently come under substantial scrutiny following significant increase in catch,” Dr Peddemors said.

“However, there is little information on which to base management decisions.

“Research following a successful observer program on the NSW commercial shark fishing fleet is providing data on the species composition, biology and fishing gear details, but more information is required on the stock structure and population size of the main sharks being caught and their movements.”

The study will also try to determine whether Sandbar and Dusky Whaler sharks found in NSW are part of the same stock of sharks that occur in Queensland and whether an effective population size can be calculated using modern genetic techniques.

“This information will help in determining whether these sharks should be managed separately by each state or collaboratively,” Dr Peddemors said.

“Short-term and distance movements of Dusky and Sandbar Whaler sharks using acoustic and satellite telemetry will assist in the development of potential spatial management options like time-area closures.”

The project builds on ongoing research investigating the biology of the shark species targeted and aims to enhance the sustainability of the fishery to ensure ongoing livelihoods. The project will be based in Coffs Harbour, close to most stakeholders.

Funding for the Shark Futures: sustainable management of the NSW whaler shark fishery project is provided by NSW DPI and the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian government, with support from the NSW Commercial Fishing Trust, the Australian Animal Tagging & Monitoring System and the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation.

Media contact: Tom Braz (02) 6391 3686 or 0428 256 596

Source: NSW Department of Primary Industries



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