Sharks

​​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.

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 detailed actions to encourage the effective and sustainable management of Australia’s shark populations.

Australia's second National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2012 (Shark-plan 2)

Australia is a world leader in the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources. In July 2012, following a review of Shark-plan 1, Australia’s secondNational Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2012 (Shark-plan 2) was released.

Shark-plan 2 identifies how Australia will manage and conserve sharks, and ensure that Australia meets international conservation and management obligations. The plan identifies research and management actions across Australia for the long-term sustainability of sharks, including actions to help minimise the impacts of fishing on sharks.

Shark-plan 2 provides a framework for the conservation of Australia’s shark populations and for guiding the industries and communities that impact upon them.

Shark-plan 2 was developed with state, Northern Territory and Australian Government agencies, and has been endorsed by the Shark-plan Implementation and Review Committee and the Australian Fisheries Management Forum.

Shark-plan 2

Operational Strategy

An operational strategy for Shark-plan 2 was also developed with government stakeholders, to identify actions Commonwealth, state and Northern Territory jurisdictions will pursue over the next four years to contribute to the broader objectives of Shark-plan 2.

Shark-plan Representative Group

In 2013, the Shark-plan Representative Group (SRG) was established to oversee and report on the implementation of the operational strategy for Shark-plan 2. The SRG meets annually and includes representatives from the Northern Territory and state fisheries agencies, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Environment, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Fisheries Research Development Corporation, commercial and recreational fishing sectors and environmental non-government organisations. The SRG replaces the Shark Implementation and Review Committee (SIRC) previously established under Australia’s first National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks. Relevant documents from the SRG meetings are available below.

Relevant Documents

2009 Shark Assessment Report for the Australian National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks

In March 2010, the then Bureau of Rural Sciences (now Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) prepared the 2009 Shark Assessment Report. This report identified significant changes that have occurred in fisheries since the release of the '2001 Shark Assessment Report' and new and ongoing issues that were considered in the review of Shark-plan 1. The information presented in the report is based on a compilation of reports provided by Commonwealth, state and territory fishery management agencies, research reports and expert opinion.  

Last reviewed:
16 Jun 2015