Who we are

A diverse group working together to make recreational fishing a better experience for those in and out of the water.

As a recreational fisher, you play a vital role in maintaining a healthy population of sharks, rays and other fish stocks. Understanding the different species and knowing how to fish responsibly will not only support fish populations, it’ll improve your confidence and safety. The result? A more enjoyable fishing experience, now and in the future.

Over recent years, some of you have indicated that there is room for improvement in the handling of sharks and rays. While you feel that you’re doing the right thing, you’re worried that others aren’t. You’ve told us you want the fishing community to get more credible information about the best way to catch, handle and release sharks and rays.

The Shark Mates initiative is about discovering and promoting best practice in recreational fishing guidelines so Victoria can lead the way in supporting our sharks and respecting our rays.

The Ecophysiology and Conservation Research Group is led by Professor Richard Reina in Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences. The Group’s research focusses on gaining a deeper understanding of how animals respond to challenges from their environment and human activity. The purpose of this research is to apply improved knowledge to the conservation and management of affected species and ecosystems.

The Group is studying the interactions between sharks and recreational fisheries to improve safety for fishers and improve outcomes for sharks and rays in Victoria. The Monash University team play a key role in promoting the Shark Mates initiative to the wider community.

VRFish is the peak body representing the voice of 838,000 recreational fishers in Victoria. With over 51,000 subscribers and a network of individual fishers, clubs and associations, VRFish works collaboratively to tackle the challenges and seize opportunities that make fishing better for everyone.

A survey coordinated by VRFish indicated that a large number of Victoria’s recreational fishers want more knowledge on how to handle and release sharks and rays. Through the Shark Mates initiative, VRFish wants to show leadership for the recreational fishing sector by addressing any gaps in knowledge and make Victoria’s fishing experience more sustainable and enjoyable. VRFish plays a key role in communicating and engaging with fishers to help adopt the Shark Mates best practice approach.

The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) is an independent statutory authority that manages Victoria’s fisheries resources in a progressive and collaborative way. The VFA prioritises sustainable and healthy fisheries, social and economic prosperity, effective and innovative authority, and strong and collaborative relationships. The VFA has more than 160 staff based at 25 locations across Victoria.

Shark Mates is aligned to the VFA’s focus areas – educating fishers about their obligations, and supporting sustainable fishing practices and aquaculture. The VFA plays a key role in communicating and engaging with fishing groups to adopt the Shark Mates best practice approach.

The Southern Shark Ecology Group (SSEG) is part of the Marine and Coastal Research Consortium at Flinders University. The SSEG delivers high quality research on the biology, ecology and population status of chondrichthyans, interactions with humans (in relation to both fisheries and shark bite mitigation measures), and public perception. This Group also provides research-based advice to managers and policy makers on issues associated with sharks, rays, skates, and chimaeras.

Flinders’ Marine and Coastal Research Consortium brings together research scientists with complementary skills who work on a broad scope of marine and coastal themes that includes organisms and ecosystems, maritime engineering and robotics, seafood production and sustainability, and physical and cultural environments.

Shark Mates is funded by the FRDC (Project Number 2018-042), a partnership between the Australian Government and the fishing and aquaculture sectors. The FRDC’s role is to invest in fisheries research, development and extension activities (RD&E) in Australia. The FRDC ensures that research is undertaken to assist in the management of fisheries and aquaculture for ongoing sustainability.

The Aquatic Animal Welfare Working Group (AAWWG) has supported a number of projects that have delivered tangible improvements to animal welfare in Australia. The AAWWG identified better handling practices for sharks and rays as a priority research area and aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice within the community.

Interested in becoming a Shark Mates ambassador?

We’re looking for people to get out there and promote our responsible fishing practices. If you’re keen to help us take better care of sharks and rays in southern Australia, we’d love to hear from you.