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 Some of the findings highlighted during this workshop are now considered to be outdated.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).