Prof Colin Simpfendorfer is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture. He has more than 25 years of experience in researching sharks, and has published extensively in the scientific literature on shark biology, ecology, fisheries and conservation. His expertise on sharks has been recognized by his appointment as the Co-Chair of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group. 

Colin is a graduate of James Cook University, having undertaken both his undergraduate and postgraduate training in Townsville. After completing his PhD he worked on shark fisheries at the Western Australian Fisheries Department before moving to Florida to work at the Centre for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory. He returned to JCU in 2007 to lead the Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, where he has helped build a research group focused on improving our understanding of sharks and how best to conserve and manage their populations.

  • Status and sustainable use of elasmobranch populations
  • Science for the conservation of elasmobranch populations
  • Nursery areas for sharks
  • Analytical tools for acoustic monitoring studies
  • 2006 to present - Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
  • 1999 to 2006 - Senior Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Florida, USA)
  • 1993 to 1999 - Senior Research Scientist, Western Australian Fisheries (Perth, Western Australia)
  • 1987 to 1993 - Academic Level A, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
Research Disciplines
  • 2013 - Advisor of the Year Award, Advisory Panel Category - Highly Commended
  • 2011 - JCU Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean's Research Award (Group)
  • 2012 to 2015 - Co-Chair IUCN Shark Specialist Group

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 123+ research outputs authored by Prof Colin Simpfendorfer from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding is shown by funding source and project.

ACIAR - Research Grant

Sustainable management of the shark resources of Papua New Guinea: socioeconomic and biological characteristics of the fishery

Indicative Funding
$121,192 over 4 years (administered by CSIRO)
The shark fishery in PNG is the country's5th most important export fishery worth about K8 million annually. Sharks are also important to the artisanal fishery and are a potential resource for ecotourism. It is also highly likely that the shark resources of PNG are shared with neighbouring countries, e.g. Australia, Indonesia, and adjacent South Pacific island nations such as the Solomon Islands. Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation due to their life history characteristics, and declines can affect livelihoods of communities. The PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has identified a need to improve fisheries management, underpinned by an assessment of the shark and ray fisheries.
William White, Ludwig Kumoru, Colin Simpfendorfer, Sharon Appleyard and Andrew Chin, with the help of Jonathan Smart (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea and College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Shark; Ray; Papua New Guinea; Fishery; Management; Conservation

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation - Research Grants

Global Shark and Ray Initiative - Quickstart projects

Indicative Funding
$45,186 over 2 years (administered by Wildlife Conservation Society)
This project is part of a large project that is developing a global conservation strategy for sharks and rays. This work will investigate two aspects of global shark conservation. 1. It will assist in the development of the case for conservation of devil rays, silky shark, freshwater stingrays and guitarfish; 2. It will assist in the development of simple fisheries management tools for the rapid conservation of sharks and rays.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
shark; Fisheries Management; Ray Crystal-Structure; Conservation

United Nations Environment Programme - Switzerland - Contract Research

Capacity Building in Oceania to Implement CITES Sharks and Ray Activities

Indicative Funding
This proposal seeks to fund a region-wide capacity building project in Oceania to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) activities for recently-listed sharks and rays. On 14 September 2014 the CITES Appendix II listing of five shark and two manta ray species took effect. To ensure the harvest for export is sustainable, parties must have a non-detriment finding (NDF), be able to monitor exports and domestic take, and respond if take from all sources exceeds the NDF harvest limits.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Shark; Ray Crystal-Structure; Conservation; Fisheries Management

Wildlife Conservation Society - Consultancy

Global Shark and Ray Initiative - Fisheries Substrategy

Indicative Funding
This project is part of a large project that is developing a global conservation strategy for sharks and rays. This work will develop a Fisheries Management substrategy within the larger project. This will be used as the basis for ongoing work.
Colin Simpfendorfer, with the help of David Welch (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, C20 - Coasts, Climate and Oceans)
Shark; Ray; Conservation; Fisheries Management

Fisheries Research & Development Corporation - Research & Development Funding - Research Grant

A Report Card for Australia's Sharks and Rays

Indicative Funding
$199,999 over 3 years
This project will synthesise information from a large number of previous and current research projects to generate both a repository of accessible knowledge, as well as a report card on the status of sharks and rays in Australia.
Colin Simpfendorfer, William White and Andrew Chin (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Shark; Ray; Population Status; Conservation; Fisheries Management

Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Tropical Ecosystems Hub

Drivers of juvenile shark biodiversity and abundance in inshore ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$735,000 over 5 years
This project will survey coastal areas between Cardwell and Mackay to investigate the factors that affect how sharks utilise these areas as nurseries.
Colin Simpfendorfer, Andrew Tobin and Michelle Heupel, with the help of Peter Yates, Samantha Munroe and Audrey Schlaff (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Shark; nursery area; environmental variation; portfolio effect

Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Tropical Ecosystems Hub

Maximising the benefits of mobile predators to GBR ecosystems: the importance of movement, habitat and environment

Indicative Funding
$231,400 over 5 years
This project will study the role of environmental factors in driving the movement of reef predators.
Michelle Heupel, Colin Simpfendorfer and Andrew Tobin (Australian Institute of Marine Science and College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Shark; acoustic telemetry; Reef fish; environmental variation

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Tender

Provision of advice to support non-detriment finding requirements for sharks nationally and regionally

Indicative Funding
Provide advice to the Australian federal government on the population size and sustainable harvest of five species of sharks listed on Appendix II of CITES. In addition, develop a methodology for the implementation of an Oceania-wide strategy to develop a regional Non-Detriment Finding for these CITES listed shark species.
Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
Sharks; CITES; Oceania; Non-detriment Finding

Save Our Seas Foundation - Grant

Exposure and sensitivity of the porcupine ray to climate change and coral reef degradation

Indicative Funding
The porcupine ray is a highly distinctive reef dwelling stingray. It is widely distributed but rare and very little is known about it. However, it is classed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, and is one of the two shark and rays species at risk to climate change in the Great Barrier Reef. This project will explore the spatial ecology of the porcupine ray to determine its habitat use patterns and dependencies and its ability to move and adapt. These factors affect the species vulnerability to impacts from fisheries and environmental change, and understanding these traits will be essential to assess and develop management responses.
Andrew Chin and Colin Simpfendorfer (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
ray Urogymnus asperrimus; Coral Reef; habitat disturbance; Fisheries; Climate Change; Vulnerable Species

Nature Conservancy - Consultancy

Strengthening In-Country Tropical Marine Resource Management Training Capacity In Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

Indicative Funding
$166,800 over 3 years
This project delivers two priority marine resource management curriculum and trainings to in-country trainers in PNG and Solomon Islands
Chris Cocklin and Colin Simpfendorfer, with the help of Leanne Fernandes and Julian Clifton (Division of Research & Innovation, Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Western Australia)
Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; Training; Tropical Marine Resources; Resource Management; Fisheries

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Spatial Ecology of Sea Snakes (Hydrophiidae) in Costal Waters off North Queensland. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Ecology of Stingrays on Coral Reefs in Queensland (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Large Bodied Fish Communities and Drivers of Use in the Shallow Waters of a Coastal Habitat Mosaic. (Masters, Co-Advisor)
  • The Biology and Ecology of Carcharhiniform Sharks from the bycatch of the Papua New Guinea prawn trawl fishery. (Masters, Primary Advisor)
  • Life Hisotry and Demographics of Sharks Targeted by South East Asian Long Line Fisheries. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Understanding Risk to Marine Turtles from Expanding Industrial Development in Northern Western Australia. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • A holistic approach to Australian fisheries resource management: How can Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous cultural values be utilised in contemporary fisheries management effectively? (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Ecological Specialisation and Connectivity of the Australian Sea Snakes. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Marine Sanctuaries for Wide-Ranging Animals: A Case Study of the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Population Structure and Viability Assessment of Galapagos Sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) Accross the Pacific Ocean, Defining Relationoship with Carcharhinus Obscurus to Inform Conservation Management. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Ghost Nets Across the Arafura Timor Sea Region: Perspectives of a Wicked Problem (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Habitat Selection and Resource Utilization of Predatory Coral Trout Species in Reef Systems. (PhD, Co-Advisor)
  • Movements, Habitat Use and Connectivity of Reef-associated Sharks: Implications for Management and Conservation (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Improving Understanding of Spatial Ecology Through Network Analysis of Acoustic Monitoring Data. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Assessing Ecological Risk Posed to Common Rays by Prawn Trawling (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Biology and Population Dynamics of Blue Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) across Northern Australia (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Resolving Reef Shark Abundance and Carrying Capacity on the Great Barrier Reef, QLD, Australia. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Life Histories of Deepwater Chondrichtyhans (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Effects of Environmental Variation on Habitat Use and Movement of the Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus Melanopterus. (PhD, Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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