Researchers at The University of Western Australia and Macquarie University will investigate how international laws can be reformed to improve shark conservation and management.
Professor Erika Techera, Dean of UWA's Law School and member of UWA's Oceans Institute, and Professor Natalie Klein, Dean of Macquarie Law School have received Federal funding to analyse existing international laws and institutions that govern shark conservation and management, as well as regimes for other marine species.
Professor Techera said the latest science research indicated sharks played a critical role in the health of marine ecosystems, yet existing conservation and management laws had not been effective and many shark species continued to decline.
"Their diminishing numbers have repercussions not only for the survival of sharks but also for the health of entire marine ecosystems and the security of human communities that depend upon them for subsistence," she said.
Researchers had previously found the removal of predator pressure on other species could result in damage to food chains which could then indirectly harm populations of other species, Professor Techera said.
"Our project will identify obstacles that hamper the effectiveness of existing laws, pinpoint best practice global governance and highlight opportunities for legal reform.
"There is a need to improve the legal protection and regulation of the ocean environment and marine resources."
Professor Techera and Professor Klein have received $101,000 over three years through the Australian Research Council's Discovery Projects funding.