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Code of Conduct


The national Code of Conduct for Diving with Greynurse Sharks applies in all NSW waters including Greynurse Shark critical habitat and aggregation sites.

To comply with the Code of Conduct, all SCUBA divers must not:

  • Conduct night dives in sites identified as habitat critical to the survival of grey nurse sharks;

  • Touch, feed or interfere with the natural behaviour of grey nurse sharks;

  • Chase, harass or interrupt the swimming patterns of grey nurse sharks;

  • Block cave entrances, gutters or entrap grey nurse sharks;

  • Dive in groups totalling more than ten divers; and

  • Use mechanical apparatus including but not limited to scooters, horns and shark pods.

All divers should comply with this Code of Conduct to avoid penalties including fines up to $110,000 or 2 years imprisonment (or both).

In addition, all commercial SCUBA diving operators must conduct all dives in recognised grey nurse shark areas under this Code. In addition to the divers' obligations listed above, all commercial operators must:

  • Give a dive brief at each dive site identifying grey nurse shark habitat areas;

  • Ensure all divers on their charter vessels comply with the Code of Conduct;

  • Participate in scientific research to collect information regarding grey nurse shark populations and distribution; and

  • Display the Code of Conduct in all dive stores and on board dive boats.

Commercial diving charters and operators are required by law to apply for a permit prior to undertaking any commercial diving activities in NSW marine parks. 

Accidentally caught grey nurse shark

Fishers may accidentally catch a grey nurse shark while fishing for other species. If you catch a grey nurse shark, you must release it carefully causing the least possible harm:

  • Bring the shark in as quickly as possible to minimise stress.

  • Try not to lift it out of the water as this can cause internal damage.

  • Cut the line as close to the hooked area as possible. However, if the risk to your own personal safety is significant, please do not attempt to carry out this action.

  • Do not tail rope the shark.

Non-compliance of rules

Significant penalties apply for non-compliance of rules, including:

  • $500 on the spot fines apply for taking fish in contravention of a fishing notification. For first offences, maximum penalties of $22,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment apply, and $44,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment, for a second or subsequent offence.

  • $500 on the spot fines apply for interfering with a fish of a threatened species (such as grey nurse sharks), with maximum penalties of $110,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment. Interfering includes harassing, chasing, tagging, marking or engaging in any activity for the purposes of attracting or repelling a grey nurse shark.

  • $2,500 on the spot fines apply for harming, buying, selling or possessing a threatened species (such as a grey nurse shark), with maximum penalties of $220,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment for endangered species.

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