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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Shark commercial fishing

Commercial shark fishing in Western Australia takes place in the north and south of the State.

The northern and southern shark fisheries have a State and joint-authority management component due to the distribution of several shark stocks across state boundaries.

Both fisheries also operate under Commonwealth approvals.​​

The Northern Shark Fishery comprises the State-managed WA North Coast Shark Fishery in the Pilbara and western Kimberley, and the Joint Authority Northern Shark Fishery in the eastern Kimberley.

The Southern Shark Fishery, made up of the southern and west coast demersal gillnet and longline fisheries, operates in continental shelf waters along the south and lower west coasts of the State. The majority of operators use demersal gillnets to target sharks, with scalefish also making up a small part of the catch.

The main species targeted are the dusky whaler, sandbar, gummy and whiskery sharks. The flesh of sharks caught off the coast of Western Australia is highly regarded and commercially important.

The meat is mostly sold in South-western WA and some in Victoria mainly for fish ‘n’ chips. The valuable fins are exported to South-east Asia for use in shark fin soup. Regulations prohibit any take of shark for fins alone.

Stock status and catch ranges for shark commercial fisheries

Northern shark​

Stock assessment complete​​​ Yes​
Breeding stock assessment​ Sandbar shark: Inadequate. Blacktip shark: Uncertain​
Target catch (and effort) range in tonnes (days)​ ​ < 20 (sandbar)​
Catch (tonnes) for season reported​​ No catch reported (WA component).​
Season reported​​ 2009/10​​
​Catch (or effort level acceptable​ N/A​
Comments on performance in reported season​​ Previous management intervention reduced fishing effort to below target level, but catches of sandbar sharks in recent years far exceeded their sustainable annual limit so the breeding stock remains inadequate. No effort occurred this year.​​

Southern and west coast demersal gillnet and longline

Stock assessment complete​​​
Breeding stock assessment​​
Gummy and whiskery sharks: Adequate. Dusky sharks are anticipated to now be recovering. Sandbar shark: Inadequate​​
Target catch (and effort) range in tonnes (days)​
​ 725 – 1,095 (key species only)​​
Catch (tonnes) for season reported​​
996 (key species only)​​
Season reported​
Catch (or effort level acceptable)​ Yes​​
Comments on performance in reported season​ Previous management limited overall fishing effort to acceptable levels. Gummy shark catch exceeds their historical target range due to increasing catch rates; dusky shark catches are within target range; whiskery catch slightly below acceptable range due to seasonal closure and effort reductions; catches of sandbar in the southern part of their distribution are acceptable.​​​​​​


Last modified: 27/06/2012 2:43 PM

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