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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 1 February 2023

WA's commercial shark fisheries have new rules around fins

Western Australia’s commercial shark fisheries are sustainably managed and from today new rules are in place to ensure shark fins are left naturally attached when fishers bring their catches back to port.

In WA, all shark species are commercially protected and can only be targeted and retained in a small number of commercial fisheries, which provide an important source of local and affordable seafood.  

Our Temperate Shark Fisheries operate within the West Coast Bioregion and South Coast Bioregion and most of the fishers use demersal gillnets to specifically target smaller juvenile and sub-adult sharks and primarily catch dusky, sandbar, gummy and whiskery sharks along with small amounts of scalefish.  

  Sandbar sharks are one species caught by WA shark fishers

Fishery managers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have been working with the WA Fishing Industry Council and the commercial shark fishers in consultation and preparation for the change in their new catch landing obligations. 

The updated regulations are in line with international best practice in shark fisheries management and will ensure accurate identification of shark species when they’re landed. The change also improves traceability in the trade of shark products.

DPIRD’s Aquatic Resources Management Director Nathan Harrison said by adopting these measures that support long-term sustainability and meet acceptable fishing practices, WA’s commercial shark fishers would enhance their social licence.  

“From today, when commercial shark fishers get back to port, the fins should be attached to a substantial part of the shark, allowing the shark species to be easily identified, Mr Harrison said.

“In order assist the fishers in processing and storage of shark catches, they can partially cut the fins, which helps in the handling practices and prevents a natural build-up of ammonia in the fins, but the fins can no longer be removed at sea.”

“WA’s Temperate Shark Fisheries operate from south of Shark Bay through to South Australia’s border, have Commonwealth Government environmental approval, and are very important in supplying fresh seafood in regional areas of our State as well as Perth.”

Last modified: 1/02/2023 8:36 AM

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