Authors: McAllister, Jaime D.; Barnett, Adam; Lyle, Jeremy M.; Semmens, Jayson M.
Source: ICES JOURNAL OF MARINE SCIENCE, 72 (8):2234-2244, SEP-OCT 2015
Brief summary of the paper: Protecting essential habitats through the implementation of area closures has been recognized as a useful management tool for rebuilding overfished populations and minimizing habitat degradation.
School shark (Galeorhinus galeus) have suffered significant stock declines in Australia; however, recent stock assessments suggest the population may have stabilized and the protection of closed nursery areas has been identified as a key management strategy to rebuilding their numbers.
Young-of-the-year (YOY) and juvenile G. galeus were acoustically tagged and monitored to determine ontogenetic differences in residency and seasonal use of an important protected nursery area (Shark Refuge Area or SRA) in southeastern Tasmania.
Both YOY and juvenile G. galeus showed a distinct seasonal pattern of occurrence in the SRA with most departing the area during winter and only a small proportion of YOY (33%) and no juveniles returning the following spring, suggesting areas outside the SRA may also be important during these early life-history stages.
While these behaviors confirm SRAs continue to function as essential habitat during G. galeusearly life history, evidence of YOY and juveniles emigrating from these areas within their first 1–2 years and the fact that few YOY return suggest that these areas may only afford protection for a more limited amount of time than previously thought.
Determining the importance of neighbouring coastal waters and maintaining the use of traditional fisheries management tools are therefore required to ensure effective conservation of G. galeus during early life history.