An Australian Thornback Skate pictured on the seafloor
The Australian Thornback Skate was assessed as 'Least Concern' by The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021. Although this skate species is taken as bycatch in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, it has a significant inshore refuge outside of areas subject to demersal trawling, as well as in Bass Strait where trawling is limited. Image: Graham Edgar

Conservation of sharks, rays and chimaeras is an increasing priority worldwide, as evidence of overexploitation of some species becomes apparent. This project delivered two publications that strengthen the knowledge base available to support decision making about shark conservation and management in Australia.

Shark Action Plan Policy Report 2018

The Shark Action Plan Policy Report 2018 reviewed extinction risk status and distribution for threatened shark species. This included data gaps and data needs, priority actions for national species assessments and listings, and common threats. It also reviewed research related to climate change effects on sharks, and policy advice on internationally-listed shark species and those listed as Conservation Dependent under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Cover of The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021
The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021 identified more than 40 species that have been assessed as globally threatened, yet remain secure in Australian waters.

The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021

The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021 assessed the national extinction risk of Australia’s 328 shark, ray and chimaera species, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature listing criteria. The assessments considered all available information on species’ taxonomy, distribution, population status, habitat and ecology, major threats, use and trade, and conservation measures. They reveal that sharks and their relatives are faring better in Australia than in the rest of the world, with a relatively low level of threatened species. Roughly one in eight species is threatened with extinction.

The action plan recommends conservation objectives for each species, and identifies species requiring additional study to refine their status. It provides a knowledge base for policy makers, resource managers, and researchers to support management initiatives such as threatened species listings at Commonwealth state and territory levels, and sets a benchmark for measuring future changes in species’ status.

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