• Open Access

Reassessing the value of nursery areas to shark conservation and management

Authors

  • Michael John Kinney,

    1. Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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  • Colin Ashley Simpfendorfer

    1. Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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Correspondence
Michael John Kinney, Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Queensland, Australia. Tel: 07 4781 6796; fax: 07 4781 4099. E-mail: michael.kinney@jcu.edu.au

Abstract

Concern over declining shark populations has led to an intense interest in their conservation and management. Due to the difficulties involved in managing adult sharks, focus has been placed on young juvenile and neonate age classes that inhabit discrete inshore nursery areas. However, past confusion over what qualifies as a nursery habitat has led to the identification of vast coastal areas as nurseries, making conservation unfeasible. With the establishment of more discerning criteria for nursery area identification such concerns have been somewhat alleviated, but while effort has been put into defining, identifying, mapping, and in some cases protecting nursery areas, little attention has been paid to the practical value of nurseries for the recovery of exploited shark populations. Often neonate and young juveniles are considered the most critical age classes in terms of population stability/recovery, but evidence is mounting that suggests life stages outside the nursery may be more important in this regard. While nursery area protection should remain a component in shark management strategies it will be critical to link early life stage conservation with management strategies that encompass older individuals residing outside nurseries if effective management is to be achieved.

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