White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Legislative protection

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

The white shark is listed as vulnerable and migratory under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

EPBC Act Status and Documents - Carcharodon carcharias — Great White Shark

Australian Government Action


The White Shark Recovery Plan was developed in accordance with the guidelines for the compilation of recovery plans under the EPBC Act. This Plan sets out recovery objectives and actions to achieve those objectives.


The white shark is protected internationally through a number of mechanisms. The white shark is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) and also on Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). These conventions limit trade and help reduce the number of sharks killed through commercial and recreational fishing activities.

Biology and ecology

White sharks are large, rare, warm-blooded apex marine predators. It is estimated that they mature at 12-18 years for females and 8-10 years for males. Maximum length is 6.4 metres, though specimens of up to 7 metres may exist. White sharks reproduce only once every two to three years and produce between two and ten pups per litter.


The white shark is widely distributed throughout temperate and sub-tropical regions in the northern and southern hemispheres. It is most frequently found off southern Australia, South Africa, northern California and the north-eastern United States. In Australian waters the white shark's range extends primarily from southern Queensland, around the southern coastline and to the North West Cape in Western Australia.

Despite a general scarcity of data on the white shark's population size and population trends, there appears to be an overall, long-term decline in abundance of white sharks in Australian and international waters. Evidence for this decline in Australia comes from game fishing records and the shark control programs run in New South Wales and Queensland. For example, the NSW shark control program caught a total of 151 white sharks in the 1950's as compared to only 44 in the 1990's. Similar declines are also evident in the Queensland progam.


The main threats faced by white sharks in Australian waters are from interactions with commercial and recreational fisheries and shark control programs.