Gummy Shark

Other names: gummy, southern gummy shark, grey gummy shark, flake, sweet William

Scientific name:
Mustelus antarcticus

Area restrictions:
Do not take in shark refuge areas.  Research suggests that gummy sharks are being heavily fished, so area restrictions to protect this species and school shark are extremely important.

Minimum size:
75 cm total  

Bag limit:
2 (school and gummy shark combined)

Possession limit:
2 (school and gummy shark combined)

Boat limit:
5 (all shark species combined, excluding elephantfish) 

The dorsal and pectoral fins must remain attached to all shark until they are landed.  
Identifying features: Gummy shark are bronze to grey with small white spots along the body and a pale belly.  There are two dorsal fins of a similar size.  

Grows to:
  Females up to 175 cm, males up to 145 cm.  Up to 40 kg.

  Gummy sharks are widely distributed around the southern half of Australia including Bass Strait and Tasmania.  Found mainly over sandy areas and will come close inshore to beaches at night in search of food items.  Can be caught from 2 - 80 metres but may go much deeper.  Gummy sharks depend on inshore nursery areas including sheltered bays and estuaries as habitat for birthing females and for juveniles.

Fishing information:
These sharks are becoming increasingly targeted by anglers fishing at night from beaches around Tasmania.  Sturdy fishing gear is required and try baits such as fish flesh or squid.  The most popular method for fishing gummy sharks in Tasmania is by longline, their use being almost exclusively to target this species.  Occasionally caught from boats by anglers fishing for flathead.

Responsible fishing tips:
Sharks are vulnerable to overfishing because they are long-lived, slow to mature and produce few offspring compared with other fish.  Responsible fishers should return all unwanted shark to the water alive and undamaged.  Using circle hooks will ensure the shark is predominantly jaw hooked and easier to release using a sturdy de-hooking device.  Consider using fewer hooks on longlines in areas where gummy sharks are prevalent to avoid exceeding catch limits.  

These sharks have flattened teeth that are turned inwards such that the points and edges are not exposed, hence their name ‘gummy’ sharks.  All large sharks should be handled carefully as they tend to thrash about when landed.   

The flesh is firm and tasty though it should be well bled.  Keeping fillets in fridge overnight improves their eating quality.

Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

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