Cephaloscyllium laticeps 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Cephaloscyllium laticeps (Duméril, 1853)
Common Name(s):
English Australian Swellshark, Draughtboard Shark, Nutcracker Shark, Sleepy Joe
Scyllium laticeps Duméril, 1853
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 2 May 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 2 May 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-04-08
Assessor(s): Walker, T.I. & White, W.T.
Reviewer(s): Simpfendorfer, C., Dulvy, N.K. & Kyne, P.M.
Contributor(s): Kyne, P.M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M., Walls, R.H.L., Simpfendorfer, C. & Chin, A.

The Australian Swellshark (Cephaloscyllium laticeps) is an abundant species endemic to shallow water (to at least 60 m) in southeastern Australia. Although large numbers of the species are caught by demersal trawl and bottom-set gillnets, much of the catch is discarded alive and fishing mortality is low because the species is extremely resilient to capture by fishing gear and to handling out of water. Both fishery-dependent monitoring and fishery-independent surveys indicate no decline in abundance over the period 1973‒2008. Hence, the species is assessed as Least Concern and the population is expected to increase in response to recent management initiatives.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Australian Swellshark is endemic to southern Australia and is found from the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia (34°06´S, 123°10´E) to Jervis Bay in New South Wales (35°06´S, 150°48´E), including Tasmania (Last and Stevens 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):60
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The Australian Swellshark is one of the most abundant shark species of southern Australia. Analyses of data from scientific onboard observer monitoring of commercial trawl catches and fishing effort indicate for the 11-year period 1996–2006 that overall relative abundance (standardised catch per unit effort) had not declined off southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria (Walker and Gason 2007). Fishery-independent survey of the gillnet shark fishery, which occurs mainly west of the demersal trawl fishery, showed no decline in abundance between 1973–76 and 2007–08; i.e., mean (±standard error) of 1,761 (±711) to 2,586 (±475) and 2,186 (±653) to 3,424 (±646) sharks per 1,000 km-lift hours for 6- and 7-inch mesh-size, respectively (Walker et al. 2005, Braccini et al. 2009).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Australian Swellshark occurs inshore on the continental shelf to depths of at least 60 m (Last and Stevens 2009). The species reaches at least 100 cm total length (TL) (possibly 150 cm TL) with females maturing at about 82 cm TL and males at 76 cm TL (Awruch et al. 2008). This species is oviparous with females laying eggs throughout the year; in captivity females laid a pair of eggs each month with hatching occurring after 12 months at 16–18 cm TL (Awruch et al. 2009).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Australian Swellshark flesh is consumed.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Australian Swellshark supported a mean annual catch of 220 t whole mass during the 7-year period 2000–06 estimated by combining monitoring data from scientific onboard observers and mandatory catch and effort returns submitted by commercial fishing operators in the South East Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The catch was taken off southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria by demersal otter trawl (84%) and Danish seine (16%) of which 47% was retained for marketing and 53% discarded (Walker and Gason 2007). In addition, the Australian Swellshark is one of the most commonly caught bycatch species in the shark gillnet fishery of southeastern Australia because of high gillnet selectivity by 6- and 7-inch mesh-sizes (Walker et al. 2005, Braccini et al. 2009). The Australian Swellshark is usually returned to the water alive and fishing mortality is low due to its resilience; it can survive for considerable time out of the water (Frick et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Several general management measures benefit the conservation of Australian Swell Shark, in particular fishery restructuring and spatial management arrangements. Restructuring of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery took place during 2006–07 through buy-back of Commonwealth fishing licences (Penney et al. 2014) along with implementation of markedly reduced overall fishing effort with progressive reductions in Total Allowable Catches (TACs), particularly in southern New South Wales (Walker and Gason 2007).

Implementation of the Management Plan (operational since 1 July 2013) for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network (proclaimed in 2007) prohibits demersal otter trawl and Danish seining, and in some areas all other fishing methods, in 14 Commonwealth marine reserves (including one at Macquarie Island outside the range of this species) covering ~388,464 km2 over a diverse range of temperate marine environments on the continental shelf, continental slope, and abyssal plain. Stretching from the far south coast of New South Wales, around Tasmania and Victoria, and west to Kangaroo Island off South Australia, the Network provides several refuges over the entire depth range of the Australian Swellshark (Anonymous 2013).The Management Plan for the South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network (not yet implemented as of February 2016) is similarly expected to provide further refuges for the species.

Citation: Walker, T.I. & White, W.T. 2016. Cephaloscyllium laticeps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41753A68616196. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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