Frequently asked questions for protected species

What is a protected species?

The term 'protected species' is broadly used to describe any species that has some level of protection afforded to it through state, federal or international law.

What is the status of a protected species?

At the international level, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) compiles the Red List, considered to be the world's most comprehensive guide to the global conservation status of animal and plant species. Species can be listed as:

  • extinct
  • extinct in the wild
  • critically endangered
  • endangered
  • vulnerable

In Australia species are afforded protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and/or the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, and can be listed as:

  • critically endangered
  • endangered
  • vulnerable
  • rare
  • a listed marine species
  • a listed migratory species
  • a cetacean.

For more information on listings in Australia, visit the Department of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPAC) or the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP).

When should I report a protected species interaction?

Recreational fishers should contact the RSPCA hotline on 1300 264 625 if they accidentally catch or injure a protected species. Fishers should also report sightings of dead or injured animals to the RSPCA.

Commercial fishers are legally required to report any interaction with protected species in their Species of Conservation Interest logbook (PDF, 31.8KB). In addition, they must report any interactions with dugongs, whales or dolphins, to the RSPCA hotline.

What can I do when recreational fishing to minimise my impact on protected species?

There are a range of ways in which fishers can minimise the chance of interacting with protected species. Check out some of the education material that has been developed by Fisheries Queensland in conjunction with anglers.

A perfect example of one simple way anglers can help is reducing the amount of rope attached to crab pots, and weighting it so that excess rope doesn't coil on the surface of the water, where turtles, whales and dugong can become entangled.

Where are the grey nurse shark protection areas?

A number of fisheries closures have been established in South East Queensland to protect the grey nurse shark. Details of the closures are available on the DEHP website.

The DEHP has asked that fishers who sight grey nurse sharks, alive or dead, contact the RSPCA hotline on 1300 264 625, so that scientists can learn more about this critically endangered animal.

What are commercial fishers doing to look after protected species?

The commercial fishing industry in Queensland has worked hard over recent years to minimise their impact on protected species. Industry is doing its part by:

  • fitting turtle excluder devices on trawlers
  • undertaking a mandatory endangered and threatened species awareness course
  • developing codes of conduct for certain activities, such as avoiding fishing in known turtle areas
  • developing environment management systems (EMS) that include provisions about protected species

The Queensland commercial fishing industry is working with Fisheries Queensland and other organisations to reduce their impact on protected species - making fisheries more sustainable over the long term. To find out more about what the commercial industry is doing, visit the Queensland Seafood Industry Association website.