The Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays 2021

Peter M. Kyne, Michelle R. Heupel, William T. White, Colin Simpfendorfer

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Abstract

Australia is home to a quarter of the world’s cartilaginous fishes (Class Chondrichthyes) with 328 species consisting of 182 sharks, 132 rays, and 14 chimaeras. The first Action Plan for Australian Sharks and Rays aims to provide a comprehensive and consistent review of the extinction risk of all cartilaginous fishes (hereafter ‘sharks’) occurring in Australian waters, to provide a benchmark from which changes in population and risk can be measured, and to help guide management for their conservation. This Action Plan also serves to raise the profile of their diversity and conservation needs. This volume includes a taxa profile for each of the 328 species occurring in Australian marine and inland waters, including external territories.

Each species’ extinction risk was assessed by applying the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria at the national level (i.e., Australia only). Assessments of extinction risk consider all available information on a species’ taxonomy, distribution, population status, habitat and ecology, major threats, use and trade, and conservation measures. The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria utilise a series of thresholds to evaluate extinction risk based on population size reduction, geographic range, population size, or the probability of extinction. Species were assessed against the five Red List Criteria; to qualify for one of the three threatened categories (Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable), a species had to meet a quantitative threshold for that category in any of the five criteria.

The overall national Red List status of sharks in Australia is characterised by a relatively low level of extinction risk and a high level of secure species. Of the 328 species, 12% are threatened (39 species: 22 sharks, 17 rays; no chimaeras are threatened); 10% are Near Threatened (32 species: 18 sharks, 13 rays, 1 chimaera); 70% are Least Concern (231 species: 123 sharks, 95 rays, 13 chimaeras); and, 8% are Data Deficient (26 species: 19 sharks, 7 rays, no chimaeras are Data Deficient). No species are Extinct or Extinct in the Wild.

Each taxa profile specifies two sets of actions for a species: actions to address knowledge gaps, and actions to maintain, secure, and if necessary, recover the population. To improve the ability to accurately assess the extinction risk status of species, and ultimately, better conserve and manage them, all species treated in this Action Plan require some knowledge gaps be filled. Knowledge gaps are divided into five themes, each of which improves the information base from which to assess status: taxonomy, distribution, population trend, life history, and connectivity.

Conservation actions are provided for each species, regardless of the Red List status assigned them in this Action Plan. While threatened species require immediate action to conserve, manage, and recover their populations, Least Concern species also require action to maintain their secure status. Data Deficient species require action to understand various aspects of their population, but since an assessment as Data Deficient acknowledges the possibility that future research may show that a threatened category is appropriate, action is also needed to minimise or mitigate threats until such time as more information is available to show that the species is not threatened.
Finally, an overarching recommendation is provided for each threatened species. This includes the recommendation that five species be considered for listing on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), three species be considered for up-listing, and two species be considered for down-listing.

The implementation of the recommendations and actions in this Action Plan will require an ongoing and enhanced investment in science and management which will help secure the future of Australia’s sharks, rays, and chimaeras.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHobart
PublisherNational Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub
Number of pages436
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9780646825533
ISBN (Print)9780646825526
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2021

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