Redrawing the lines of our marine parks for sharks

Shortfin mako shark. Credit: Mark Conlin

Redrawing the lines of our marine parks for sharks

Charlotte Birkmanis, University of Western Australia.
Photos of 2019 Science in Public Event at the Brisbane Hotel in Perth. Photos Credit – Ross Swanborough.

Small changes to marine parks could make a big difference to mako sharks and many other ocean shark species, says UWA researcher Charlotte Birkmanis, lead author of a paper published in Global Ecology and Conservation today. 

Sharks are the peak predators across the world’s oceans. They’re essential to the health of the oceans, and of the fisheries that billions of people depend on.

“Sharks are valuable to fisheries and tourism, with shark diving alone bringing in $25.5 million in Australia annually”, says Charlotte

By analysing commercial fisheries catch data and environmental parameters, the study found shark hotspots around Australia for 8 species of ocean sharks.

The research shows that we are only protecting 1% of these hotspots in our marine park network and all of these areas are exposed to fishing pressure.

The study highlights that if we rezone our existing marine parks to reduce fishing in these hotspots we could give makos and other species a haven in Australian waters.

The endangered mako shark has been shown to repeatedly return to certain habitats for extended periods and by protecting these hotspots we can give these species a safe haven in Australian waters. 

The research was supported by the Jock Clough Marine Foundation.

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Further Reading:

Birkmanis, C., Partridge, J., Simmons, L., Heupel, M., Sequeira. A., (2019) ‘Shark conservation hindered by lack of habitat protection’ (in press) Global Ecology and Conservation

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