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New signs to appear along the South Coast in coming days

South Coast residents will soon see signs like this appearing at boatramps and key locations along the South Coast.

The Eurobodalla has two Greynurse Shark aggregation sites with the Toll Gate Islands ite classified as a ‘critical habitat’

The largest and most significant Greynurse Shark aggregation sites in NSW are declared as ‘critical habitat’, meaning they are essential for the survival of the species. Special rules apply at those sites to minimise the impact of fishing and diving activities on Greynurse Sharks.

Despite their fierce appearance, Greynurse Sharks are not a threat to divers or swimmers unless provoked. They are a passive species with teeth designed for capturing prey such as fish, small sharks and rays. Greynurse Sharks are totally protected in NSW and Commonwealth waters and harming or fishing for them is illegal. It is therefore important that recreational fishers and divers can distinguish Greynurse Sharks from other species. Fishers are encouraged to release all sharks unless they are certain they are not a protected species. Greynurse Sharks have sometimes been misidentified as Whaler Sharks by fishers; however, key features can be used to identify them. Greynurse Sharks have a bronze coloured upper body and a pale white underside. Dark spots are present on the trunk and caudal (tail) fin which are most prominent in juveniles. Greynurse Sharks have large, stout bodies that are tapered at each end; with two distinctive large dorsal fins of similar size. The first dorsal fin is set well back from the pectoral fins and the anal fin is similar in size to both dorsal fins. The mouth extends beyond the front of the eye and has long protruding teeth. Greynurse Sharks grow to a maximum length of 3.2 m and newborn pups are approximately 1 m in length. Diving activities, including SCUBA, snorkelling and freediving are not regulated at critical habitat and aggregation sites, however all recreational divers and commercial operators are subject to a Code of Conduct for Diving with Greynurse Sharks. Code of Conduct for Diving with Greynurse Sharks To comply with the Code of Conduct for Diving with Greynurse Sharks all divers must not: »Night dive in sites identified as habitat critical to the survival of Greynurse Sharks; »Touch, feed or interfere with the natural behaviour of Greynurse Sharks; »Chase, harass or interrupt the swimming patterns of Greynurse Sharks; »Block cave entrances, gutters or entrap Greynurse Sharks; »Dive in groups totalling more than ten divers; and »Use mechanical apparatus including but not limited to scooters and horns or electronic shark protection devices. All line fishing methods that use hooks have the potential to harm Greynurse Sharks; however, research has shown recreational fishing methods using baited hooks with whole fish or large baits are far more likely to accidentally hook Greynurse Shark. Other methods, such as spinning and trolling with artificial lures or fishing with vegetable baits were shown to rarely result in accidental interactions with Greynurse Sharks. What should I do if I catch a Greynurse Shark? If you catch a Greynurse Shark, you must release it carefully causing the least possible harm: »Bring the shark in as quickly as possible to minimise stress. »Avoid lifting it out of the water as this can cause internal damage. »Cut the line as close to the hooked area as possible, remembering that your safety is paramount. »Under no circumstances should you gaff or tail rope the shark.How can I avoid hooking a Greynurse Shark? »Avoid berleying up-current of critical habitat and aggregation sites.»Avoid fishing with wire trace or at night near critical habitat and aggregation sites. »Consider trolling or spinning with artificial lures as an alternative to bait (note that the use of bait is prohibited at many aggregation sites). »Use non-offset circle hooks.»Consider changing your location if you accidentally hook a Greynurse Shark. Source

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