The status of chondrichthyan conservation in the Indo-Australasian region
The status of chondrichthyan (sharks, batoids and chimaeras) conservation in the Indo-Australasian region is examined, and issues relevant to the conservation of this fauna at the subregional level [Australia, Indonesia (excluding West Papua), New Guinea (West Papua and Papua New Guinea), New Caledonia and New Zealand] are discussed. According to the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, c. 21% of Indo-Australasian chondrichthyans are classified as threatened (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable) and c. 40% are of conservation concern (threatened and near threatened). The proportion of threatened species is highest in New Guinea (c. 39%) and Indonesia (c. 35%) and least in New Zealand (c. 11%). In New Guinea, three quarters of the species are of conservation concern; in Indonesia, nearly two thirds are of conservation concern. Within the region, the proportion of threatened batoids (c. 29%) is higher than threatened sharks (c. 17%), while there are no threatened chimaeras. Conservation status is discussed at the order (for sharks), suborder (for batoids) and family level. Issues relating to the conservation status of chondrichthyans vary greatly between each subregion, but they mostly relate to targeted or incidental capture in fisheries. A handful of sharks and batoids are protected within Australian waters, while one species is protected in New Zealand. Both Australia and New Zealand have developed National Plans of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks), but these are lacking elsewhere. Development and implementation of NPOA-Sharks are a priority in order to drive the conservation of the regional fauna. Sustainable fisheries management (including by-catch), confronting the challenge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, species protection where appropriate and marine protected areas (MPA) are all likely to prove vital in ensuring the long-term conservation of Indo-Australasian sharks, batoids and chimaeras.