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PO Box 439 AVALON NSW 2107
(61) (2) 9973 1728
Protecting Sharks in Australia      

Marine Conservation


In addition to our work on shark control programs and shark fin trade, HSI is active on a number of shark conservation issues in Australia. This has focused on getting sharks protected under federal and state legislation, as well as calling for a comprehensive shark conservation and management policy in Australia. 

HSI Nomination program

HSI’s shark conservation efforts in Australia have focussed on gaining protection for key species we believe to be threatened.

HSI nominations have led to threatened species protection for the Great White and Grey Nurse sharks under NSW, Victorian, Tasmanian and Commonwealth legislation. Both species suffered heavy population losses at the hands of recreational game fishers in the 1970s and 1980s. Even though both species are now protected in most jurisdictions in Australia, they are still caught as incidental bycatch in commercial fisheries and it is suspected that Grey Nurse sharks are often caught by recreational fishermen, both accidentally and intentionally.

More recently HSI has submitted nominations that have led to the protection of the Great hammerhead shark and the Scalloped hammerhead shark in NSW, with federal nominations currently undergoing scientific assessment. HSI continues to nominate further shark species for consideration, based on our concerns for their conservation status in Australian waters.

Click here for a fact sheet on Great White Sharks

Grey Nurse shark

Thanks to HSI's nomination work the Grey Nurse shark is now protected as 'critically endangered' on the east-coast of Australia, receiving the highest level of protection possible for a species under federal law. It is estimated that there may be between 1146 and 1662 individuals Grey Nurse sharks left on the east coast (Cardno Ecology Lab 2010). Whilst this is an improved number from the previous estimate of 500 individuals, HSI is still seriously concerned that the Grey Nurse shark may become extinct on the east coast within a few decades unless action is not taken.

HSI campaigned for many years for the protection of critical habitat sites for the Grey Nurse Shark. The two in Commonwealth jurisdiction - Solitary Islands and Cod Grounds - are now Marine Protected Areas, while there is differing levels of protection afforded to the sites in QLD and NSW waters. HSI continues to support action to improve protection for these areas - particularly those in NSW waters.

Click here for a fact sheet on Grey Nurse Sharks

Recovery teams

HSI campaigners have been members of the NSW and Federal Recovery Teams for the Grey Nurse and Great White Sharks and advocate the inclusion of strong conservation measures in both governments' Recovery Plans. We have called for commercial and recreational fishing to be banned in critical habitat sites, the removal of shark control nets which kill rather than exclude sharks from beaches and moratoriums on taking these animals from the wild for aquaria. Worryingly, these recovery teams seem to be currently inactive, and HSI continues to call for recovery actions to be led by a strong team of experts.

HSI is also a member of the Federal Government's Shark Advisory Group developing Australia's National Plan of Action for Sharks. HSI is promoting measures in the Plan that will bring an end to unsustainable fishing practices such as over-fishing and the wasteful and often cruel practice of finning sharks and throwing their trunks over-board. We are also calling for the National Plan of Action to ensure suitable threatened species protection for the growing number of shark species that need it.

Australian shark conservation policy

We are concerned that in the absence of a transparent and comprehensive shark conservation and management policy, consistently used at a national and international level, continuation of an effectively un-monitored trade in shark fin is leading to further depletions of vulnerable shark species in Australian and international waters.

The National Plan of Action – Sharks (NPOA – Sharks) is currently the only national document specifically relating to the conservation and management of Australia’s shark species. However, the NPOA – Sharks is a non-binding and unfunded management document that, without a guiding policy, renders positive shark conservation and management outcomes highly unlikely. Currently in its second revision the delivery of ‘Shark Plan 2’ is overseen by a Shark Plan Representative Group, on which HSI sits as one of two non-government group representatives.

To view our full suite of policy recommendations to the Australian Government, see our Shark Conservation Policy, click here.

Protecting sharks in Australia

HSI has a longstanding campaign against shark control programs on the East Coast of Australia, that has recently extended to the West Coast of Australia and internationally as a result of the newly established WA shark cull and the increased international attention due to shark control programs. For more information about HSI's campaign click here


Latest News Shark Protection in Australia



2nd April 2015 click here 

HSI statement on ballina shark fatality

10th February 2015 click here 

shark control programs a serious threat to critically endangered grey nurse sharks 

29th August 2014 click here 

Nsw Acts To Protect Hammerhead Sharks

May 23, 2012 click here

HSI's campaign to protect sharks in Australia is part of our broader work on shark conservation. For more information click here


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