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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 52(4)

Changes in relative abundance of sharks and rays on Australian South East Fishery trawl grounds after twenty years of fishing

K. J. Graham, N. L. Andrew and K. E. Hodgson

Marine and Freshwater Research 52(4) 549 - 561
Published: 2001


Upper continental slope trawling grounds (200–650 m depth) off New South Wales were surveyed with the same vessel and trawl gear and similar sampling protocols in 1976–77 (during the early years of commercial exploitation) and in 1996–97. The 1996–97 mean catch rate of sharks and rays, pooled for the main 15 species (or species groups), was ~20% of the 1976–77 mean. Individual catch rates were substantially lower in 1996–97 for 13 of the 15 species or species groups. The greatest decline was observed for dogsharks of the genus Centrophorus, which were most abundant in 1976–77 but rarely caught 20 years later. In contrast, 1996–97 catch rates of spiky dogshark (Squalus megalops) and, to a lesser extent, whitefin swell shark (Cephaloscyllium sp. A) were similar to those in 1976–77. Trawling during 1979–81 provided data for nine species, albeit not corrected for larger gear size, and the pooled mean catch rate for sharks and rays in the depth range 300–525 m was ~28% of the mean for 1976–77. The results suggest that the biomass of most species of sharks and rays declined rapidly as the fishery developed and is now at very low levels.

Full text doi:10.1071/MF99174

© CSIRO 2001

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