School shark

School sharkDistribution

School shark is found in temperate waters around southern Australia mainly on the continental shelf and upper slope. It has been recorded from Moreton Bay (southern Queensland) to Perth (Western Australia), including Tasmania. School shark has been taken from the near shore zone to 550m depth. It is mainly found near the bottom but at times occurs in the pelagic zone. 

School shark is also known as Snapper shark in Victoria.

Stock structure

There is some uncertainty about the biological stock structure for school shark. A single, southern Australian biological stock structure is assumed for management purposes. This is a shared stock that spans the waters of Victoria and other jurisdictions. 

The national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 assessed the status of school shark at the scale of this southern Australian biological stock.  

Annual catch

The table below provides the catch of gummy shark from Victorian waters by Victorian-licensed fishers. These catch estimates do not include the substantially larger catch from the southern Australian stock by Commonwealth-licensed fishers, both within and beyond Victorian waters.


Estimated Victorian catch

Commercial – by Victorian licence holders (2015/16 fishing year)

0.8 tonnes

Recreational (from 2000/01 national survey)


Indigenous (i.e. 2015/16 customary fishing permits

0 tonnes

Estimated total

≈ 0.8 tonnes

Stock status

The table below summarises and explains the status and management of the southern Australian school shark stock based on: 

  1. Stock status: classification of the biological status of the southern Australian stock as at 2013, taken from the national Status of Key Australian FishStocks (SAFS) report 2014. This stock is affected by fishing and management beyond Victorian waters.
    Read more about the SAFS assessment approach and classification system.
  2. Management settings: overview of current management arrangements in Victorian waters, including any recent changes that may affect stock status.
  3. Risk management category: The Victorian Fisheries Authority's overall, qualitative rating of current risk to stock status taking into account management arrangements, based on best available information.
    Risk management category not applicable to school shark which is a Commonwealth managed stock

Stock status is based only on sustainability and is for the entire biological stock. Management settings only apply to the portion of the stock in Victorian waters.

Management settings are also influenced by social and economic factors, and can take some time to affect a stock's status. This can depend on biological and environmental factors as well as the type and level of management changes implemented. 

Stock status (2013 data)

Key management settings

Risk management category



School shark is not targeted by Victorian-licensed commercial fishers but is occasionally landed as by-catch.

total available commercial catch, possession limits (in coastal waters) and restrictions on size and gear, while recreational fishers are subject to possession, size and gear limits.

Read more detail here about the fishing methods and rules for school shark in Victoria.

Read more about the Commonwealth's management of the southern Australian school shark fishery

Commonwealth managed stock


Collectively, the following data provide evidence that this stock  is overfished: 

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that the biomass of this stock is likely to be recruitment overfished

Fishing pressure assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that it is uncertain whether current fishing pressure (Commonwealth and state licensed catch and discards) is constrained to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment overfished state. 

Read more about the assessment of school shark stock status as at 2013 in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.