Restrictions in place to protect endangered grey nurse sharks

10 Aug 2021

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is reminding fishers about the critical habitat areas at Fish Rock and Green Island, where fishing restrictions are in place to protect the critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks, that are vulnerable to bait fishing.

DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Dr Andrew Moriarty, said it is important for fishers and divers to be aware of special zone arrangements that currently apply for Grey Nurse Shark critical habitat and aggregation sites in NSW.

“Special zones are in place around the two islands extending 200 metres in all directions from the mean high-water mark where live or dead bait is prohibited for commercial and recreational line fishing,” Dr Moriarty said.

“The mainland shoreline adjacent to Green Island which is 50m offshore is also exempt from this restriction.

“Lures including soft plastics and artificial baits that do not contain animal products can still be used in these zones.”

Dr Moriarty said fishing for other species is allowed in accordance with compliance rules.

“From August to December Yellowtail Kingfish are often abundant around these two islands and can be lawfully targeted within the zones using lures including artificial baits not containing animal products,” Dr Moriarty said.

“If you accidentally catch a Grey Nurse Shark, you must release it carefully causing the least possible harm to the animal. “Research into Grey Nurse Shark interaction with fishing gear has shown they are unlikely to interact with certain types of fishing gear such as artificial lures used while spinning, trolling and jigging.”

From August to December there will be increase in fisheries officers conducting operations at the islands using surveillance equipment, drones and patrol vessels to detect and apprehend offenders.

“It is illegal to catch and keep, buy, sell, possess or harm Grey Nurse Sharks (or any other threatened species in NSW) without a specific permit, licence, or other appropriate approval,” said Dr Moriarty.

“For critically endangered species, these penalties can include fines of up to $220,000 and up to two years in prison.

“There can also be significant penalties for causing damage to the habitat of a threatened species without approval.”

Detailed information on fishing and diving rules at Grey Nurse Shark aggregation sites can be found at or by contacting your local DPI Fisheries Officer.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling 1800 043 536 or report online.

Media contact: 02 6391 3686