The grey nurse shark is being put at further risk because of an unnecessary review of protection measures being conducted by the NSW Government. This magnificent shark is so critically endangered that every single death is significant for the survival of the species. Read more about the recent decision to reverse protections for the grey nurse shark here.
We urgently need submissions to this government review to ensure the protections are reinstated and further steps are taken to give the species the best possible change of survival. The closing date is August 26. If you’d like to know more about the review, download a copy of the discussion paper here.
There are a couple of ways of making a submission:
- Download a hard-copy written submission form here.
- There is an online submission form here.
- Alternatively, you can simply email or post your submission using the following details:
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax - (02) 4916 3880
Post - NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 1, Nelson Bay NSW 2315
To make things easy, we’ve prepared these key points for you to include in your submission. Of course you should also add any further comments you have.
There are only 1000-1500 grey nurse sharks left on the east coast of Australia and it is critically endangered. Much stronger protection is needed.
We know that the death of 4 mature females a year will prevent recovery in this species. Hook and line fishing – a key threatening process under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act – causes 12 known mortalities each year.
There are 16 key habitat areas including 10 declared critical habitat areas in NSW waters. Current research shows that the level of protection at most of these sites is inadequate. Research conducted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries has shown that grey nurse sharks will readily take a range of commonly used baits meaning the animals are not protected from accidental hooking.
The NSW Government has known since 2003 that the best way to protect sharks is to have a 1,500m sanctuary zones around each key habitat area (as recommended by an independent shark expert). Key habitat areas include Julian Rocks and Spot X off Byron Bay, Pimpernel Rock, The Steps and Anemone Bay at North Solitary Islands, E-Gutters at North West Solitary, Manta Arch at South Solitary, Fish Rock and Green Island, Cod Grounds, Mermaid Reef off Laurieton, Latitude Reef and Spot A off Forster, The Pinnacle off Forster, Big and Little Seal Rocks, Broughton Island, Foggys Cave off Terrigal, Long Reef off Sydney, Magic Point at Maroubra, Bass Point at Shellharbour, Tollgate Islands and Montague Island.
Fish Rock and Green Island at South West Rocks are in particular need of protection. This area consistently has some of the highest numbers of grey nurse sharks but has some of the lowest critical habitat protection in the state.
With the recent increase in commercial fishing for sharks there is likely to be an associated increase of accidental hooking of grey nurse sharks. The best way to minimise this risk is to provide sanctuary level protection in the place they spend most of their time – their key habitat areas.
Fully-protected sanctuaries around these critical grey nurse shark aggregation sites will make sure that grey nurse sharks have a safe haven from all fishing. Protection will also benefit other species in these areas, including the endangered black cod.
Some more useful references include:
Recent research by the NSW Department of Primary Industries clearly shows that grey nurses sharks interact with static baits used near aggregation sites, and knife jigs and soft plastic jigs cause risks to them. Read the full research here.
Unfortunately commercial fishing effort for large sharks has increased in recent years, and research from the Department has shown this increase is likely to impact on grey nurse shark populations through increased incidental capture of threatened species. Read the full research here.
I’ve recently obtained my PADI Open Water Diving Certificate and am very excited about exploring more of our incredible oceans and using my new-found skills to continue pushing for greater marine protection. My first dive in NSW waters will be to see the grey nurse shark at Fish Rock in a couple of weeks time. Stay tuned for that. I’ve also become a diver for conservation by supporting PADI’s Project Aware Foundation.