Title:

Application of tracking technologies to understand space-time explicit patterns of movement, residency and habitat use of pelagic sharks in Spencer Gulf: resolving overlaps with key community activities and marine industries

Project Number:

2014-020

Organisation:

SARDI Food Safety and Innovation

Principal Investigator:

Paul J. Rogers

Project Status:

Completed

FRDC Expenditure:

$382,063.00

Program(s):

Adoption, Environment, Industry

Need

Following many expressions of public concern regarding the potential for finfish/tuna aquaculture to attract sharks to coastal areas, at both regional development and individual site applications, PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture identified the need for an understanding of the factors that may explain associations between sharks and finfish/tuna aquaculture activities. This view was reinforced at meetings of the AAC (including a presentation from the PI on 22 Feb 2013), who are a legislated body under the Aquaculture Act 2001, advising the State Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries on matters relating to aquaculture development. As a consequence, this project was listed as a priority area for investment by the SAFRAB. A previous FRDC funded workshop (2002/040) identified a need to understand factors that may explain interactions between pelagic sharks and aquaculture activities. Some of the findings highlighted during this workshop are now considered to be outdated. For example, anecdotal accounts from finfish farmers and commercial fishers suggest that white sharks sightings have increased in the past decade in Spencer Gulf and this may have implications for the frequency of interactions with the fishing and aquaculture industry. The provision of data to further inform the public’s current perception of the aquaculture industry represents a key priority in South Australia’s Fisheries and Aquaculture R&D Strategy. During the development of this project the need for this research was discussed with key industry representatives. This proposal addresses key objectives of the Draft White Shark Recovery Plan, 2010 (2c, 7a, 9a and 9b).

Objectives

1. Determine if activities associated with finfish aquaculture correlate with spatial and temporal residency and migration patterns of pelagic sharks.

2. Assess and compare patterns of residency of pelagic sharks in ‘natural’ foraging areas, and any overlaps with community activities.

3. Develop a Code of Practice for removal and release of pelagic sharks from finfish aquaculture cages.

Movement, residency and habitat use of pelagic sharks in Spencer Gulf: resolving overlaps with marine industries and community activities

Final Report
ISBN:978-1-876007-09-6
ISSN:
Author(s):Dr Paul Rogers
Date Published:September 2018
The report focuses on the movement dynamics of two pelagic sharks, the White Shark (Carcharadon carcharias) and Bronze Whaler (Carcharinhus brachyurus), in South Australia. Specific aims were to: (1) determine if aquaculture activities correlated with patterns on fidelity and migration; and (2) assess and compare the use of natural foraging areas and areas used during human marine activities. Additional objectives included the development of: industry guidelines for removal and release of pelagic sharks from finfish aquaculture pontoons, and surveys to collect baseline information on perceptions of shark associations with aquaculture and other marine activities. 
Key outcomes of the project include provision of advice to marine policy-makers regarding overlaps between sharks, marine industries and areas used during community activities (including marine parks). This project addressed important research and management questions that existed for over a decade.