Environmental Management

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 1341–1354 | Cite as

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Eastern Australian Population of the Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) Through Cross-Jurisdictional Management of a Network of Marine-Protected Areas



Between 2001 and 2009, 26 marine-protected areas (MPA) were established on the east Australian seaboard, at least in part, to manage human interactions with a critically endangered population of grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus. This network is spread across six MPA systems and includes all 19 sites outlined in the National Recovery Plan for C. taurus, though five sites remain open to some forms of fishing. The reserve network has complex cross-jurisdictional management, as the sharks occur in waters controlled by the Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, as well as by the Commonwealth (Federal) government. Jurisdiction is further complicated by fisheries and conservation departments both engaging in management activities within each state. This has resulted in protected area types that include IUCN category II equivalent zones in NSW, Queensland, and Commonwealth marine parks that either overlay or complement another large scaled network of protected sites called critical habitats. Across the network, seven and eight rule permutations for diving and fishing, respectively, are applied to this population of sharks. Besides sites identified by the recovery plan, additional sites have been protected as part of the general development of MPA networks. A case study at one of these sites, which historically was known to be occupied by C. taurus but had been abandoned, appears to shows re-establishment of an aggregation of juvenile and sub-adult sharks. Concurrent with the re-establishment of the aggregation, a local dive operator increased seasonal dive visitation rates at the site fourfold. As a precautionary measure, protection of abandoned sites, which includes nursery and gestating female habitats are options that may assist recovery of the east coast population of C. taurus.


Precautionary principle SCUBA Fishing Threatened species Philopatry Dive tourism 



This paper is dedicated to Dave Pollard, Nick Otway, Bill Talbot, David Harasti, Jim Higgs and all the staff of the NSW, Qld and Commonwealth conservation and fisheries departments who have worked over the last 30 years to conserve the east coast population of the grey nurse shark. We would also like to thank Abbie Beeson, Cheryl Edridge, Hilary Sullivan, Geoff Rohan, Narelle Montgomery, Cassandra Herbert and Lee Butcher from DEWHA for advice on the Commonwealths management of sharks and marine reserves; Owen McTavish, Libby Wilkinson, Jennifer Spencer and Ian Osterloh for assistance with entering SCUBA data, and Adrian, Lynn, Mick, Julia and Bill for providing logbooks and advice on the JBMP dive industry; Alistair Morton and Fran Clements assisted during field monitoring; Charlie Huveneers provided advice on shark conservation and fisheries. Adrian Nute provided personal communications regarding the JBMP occurrence of C. taurus and dive industry response. Barry Bruce, John Stevens, Jim Higgs and Carley Bansemer, Hamish Malcolm, Narelle Montgomery and three anonymous reviewers provided valuable input on the draft manuscript. Funding was provided by the Australian Research Council, the NSW Marine Parks Authority and the CSIRO capability day program. Our Research was permitted by the NSW Marine Parks Authority; permit No JBMP 00/002. The funding source had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIROHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.IMASUniversity of TasmaniaTaroonaAustralia

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