Grey Nurse Shark

Grey Nurse Shark

From March to October 2008 funds collected from the Don’t Bag the Environment program were donated to the Grey Nurse Shark Fund.

The most critically endangered fish species in NSW, the Grey Nurse Shark is estimated to number under 500 individuals off the east coast of Australia. The Grey Nurse is harmless to humans, with narrow, inward pointing teeth that are only suited to catching fish. Although the Grey Nurse Shark has never been responsible for a human death, we are the main cause for its decline.

Although a protected species in Australia, the Grey Nurse Shark’s decline is caused by fishing where it lives and breeds, when it is accidentally hooked but left to die of infection or other wounds. The Grey Nurse Shark has also been a victim of shark nets at beaches, along with turtles, dolphins and whales.The goal of the Grey Nurse Shark Fund was to save it from local extinction by creating a 1,500m sanctuary zones around the 16 critical habitat areas in NSW waters. The proposed sanctuary zones would prevent fishing in less than 1% of NSW waters and protect over 70% of the NSW Grey Nurse Shark population.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC NSW) has been the lead organisation helping to save the Grey Nurse Shark in Australia, lobbying decision makers, working with scientists and informing the public about this harmless and incredible species. In 2007 the Nature Conservation Council lost a legal challenge against the Commonwealth to increase protection for the Grey Nurse Shark. As a result, the government began conducting its own research to determine the extent of extinction risk for the Grey Nurse Shark population, and management strategies to prevent it from happening. The Nature Conservation Council has been an active participant in the process to ensure the Grey Nurse Shark receives appropriate protection and does not become extinct within our lifetimes.

All funds received from Don’t Bag the Environment went to The NCC NSW Grey Nurse Shark Conservation program.

Today multiple Grey Nurse Shark Protections are in place:

  • It is illegal to catch and keep, buy, sell, possess or harm grey nurse sharks without a specific permit – penalties can include fines of up to $220,000 and up to two years in prison.
  • NSW has 10 critical habitat areas along the coast that are subject to special fishing and diving rules which minimise any potential impact on the grey nurse shark.
  • These critical habitats were established as early as 2002 and stretch from Julian Rocks near Byron Bay in the north to Montague Island near Narooma in the south.
  • Grey nurse sharks are also protected in the sanctuary zones of the NSW’s six marine parks: Cape Byron, Jervis Bay, Lord Howe Island, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park and the Batemans Marine Park.

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