Look after hammerheads

Published: 08/12/2011

Recreational fishers along the Great Barrier Reef coast are being urged to be mindful of young hammerhead sharks when wetting a line.

It is currently shark pupping time in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a large number of young scalloped hammerhead sharks on the hunt for food.

Recreational fishers' baits often prove irresistible for the young hammerheads with many becoming hooked as an untargeted catch.  

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Species Conservation Expert Dr Mark Read said it was imperative that the scalloped hammerhead was protected.

"At this time of year the small hammerheads can be quite a common catch," he said.

"The young pups are ravenous and hook easily.

"If recreational fishers inadvertently catch a hammerhead pup it is important they return them to the water safely as they are a globally endangered species.

"Providing they are handled carefully juvenile hammerheads are not normally regarded as a dangerous shark so recreational fishers should find it an easy task to release the animals unharmed if they are caught."
Recreational fishers can play their part in protecting the future of the scalloped hammerhead shark by following the GBRMPA's Responsible Reef Practices.

When an unwanted fish is caught in the Great Barrier Marine Park fishers should follow these simple rules:

•    Minimise the length of time a fish is out of the water - keep fish in the water as much as possible and have your equipment close at hand. Very large fish should not be removed from the water
•    Do not leave fish on a hot, dry surface to thrash around
•    Place fish on a wet towel and cover them, especially the gills and eyes. The fish should not dry out and direct sunlight can damage their eyes
•    Handle fish gently - fully support its body, do not hold upright by the jaw, squeeze or kneel on the fish
•    Use wet hands or wet cloth when handling fish to minimise damage to their protective mucous coating
•    Remove the hook carefully and quickly using a pair of long-nose pliers or a de-hooker to minimise tissue tearing. If the hook is difficult to remove, cut the line instead
•    Help fish recover before their release - gently release the fish headfirst into the water
•    Use barbless or circle or wide gape hooks as these are less likely to become hooked in the gills or gut.

There are 133 species of sharks and rays found along the Great Barrier Reef ranging from small, species such as the epaulette shark to large, species such as the whale shark.


Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846