Shark fisheries worldwide are extremely valuable economically though are universally threatened through a combination of high susceptibility to depletion, poor data on levels of fisheries exploitation and uncertainty about what are appropriate levels of exploitation. These facts hold true for the Queensland east coast shark fishery as a high diversity of shark species are harvested through a complex combination of targeted and non-targeted fishing effort spread throughout 18 degrees of latitude. The current data void prevents effectual management, assessment and monitoring; problems well documented by the recent Gunn et al (2008) review of proposed management measures for the Queensland fishery completed for the Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. The Gunn et al (2008) review put forward 14 conditions and 8 recommendations, most pertinent being to determine exploitation and mortality rates, and improve the understanding of the shark complex with which the fishery interacts through improved reporting, observing and validation.
Significant changes in the management of the Queensland fishery began on 1 July 2009 and include substantial changes including modifications in the way commercial fishers are permitted to harvest shark stocks, as well as improved catch reporting. The need to move forward quickly in gathering information relevant to sustainable use of Queensland sharks is paramount. The Gunn et al 2008 report concluded that on the basis of the poor coverage of some, and complete absence of other data vital for confident management, the proposed management arrangements for the fishery were insufficiently cautious. The proposed project will directly address not only these concerns, but also the key research priorities relevant to shark identified by the Queensland FRAB.
Gunn, J, Meere, F, Stevens, J (2008). Independent review proposed manage,ment arrangements for Queensland’s east coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery.