The study will be led by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) shark scientists, Dr Vic Peddemors, and Dr Paul Butcher.
“The Shark Futures: sustainable management of the NSW whaler shark fishery project is taking a deeper look at the ecology, population, movements and distribution of Sandbar and Dusky Whaler sharks and how best to manage whaler shark stocks in NSW waters,” Dr Butcher said.
“The two-year project, based out of Coffs Harbour in NSW, also aims to develop a fishing technique that will decrease mortality of unwanted species, particularly threatened and protected species and to minimise the environmental impact of the fishery.
“So far, we have been able to obtain an extensive set of samples to evaluate, with 50 Sandbar and Dusky Whaler sharks tagged with acoustic transmitters and 16 sharks fitted with satellite tags. A further eleven species of sharks have been tagged with external dart tags.
“The use of acoustic and satellite telemetry will assist in the development of potential spatial management options.”
The project builds on ongoing research investigating the biology of the shark species targeted by NSW commercial fisheries and aims to enhance the sustainability of the fishery to ensure ongoing livelihoods.
Dr Vic Peddemors said the study will also try to determine whether Sandbar and Dusky Whaler sharks found in NSW are part of the same stock that occur in Queensland and whether an effective population size can be calculated using modern genetic techniques.
“This information will help in determining whether these sharks should be managed separately by each state or collaboratively and whether independent estimates of biomass can be made,” Dr Peddemors said.
“It is the last piece in the puzzle to help manage on-going, long-term sustainable shark fishing in NSW waters.”
The project is set to be completed later this year. Funding for the Shark Futures: sustainable management of the NSW whaler shark fishery project, is provided by NSW DPI and the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian government, with support from the University of Queensland and the Australian Animal Tagging & Monitoring System.