In the wake of the recent Federal Government’s popular decision to reverse a shark fishing ban, the Humane Society International has accused the Environment Minister Peter Garrett of caving in to the game fishing lobby.
According to a statement titled, ‘Garrett cave in over migratory species protection‘:
“The amendments are a cave in to the game fishing lobby who are objecting to the listing of the shortfin mako shark as a migratory species under the EPBC Act. In December 2008 the Australian Government undertook to protect short and long fin mako sharks when they were listed on Appendix II of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species. A species is listed on Appendix II if it is in trouble and needs international cooperation for its protection. However, frightened of the game fishing lobby the Minister delayed implementing Australia’s international obligations until HSI lawyers pointed out that the EPBC Act required it. Now the Minister’s solution is to amend the law.”
The release goes on to say “Contrary to unsubstantiated claims from the game fishing lobby there is no scientific evidence to show that the shortfin mako is faring much better in Australia – there is a lack of research. Indeed, evidence from New Zealand suggests the species is also in decline in this part of the world.”
Interestingly the HSI puts itself up as knowledgeable experts in the field of shark migration, “We are experts in both the EPBC Act and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species.”
In the wake of the HSI release, Recfish Australia CEO Len Olyott contacted Fisho to reaffirm the recreational fishing body’s stance on the controversial issue:
- Is not opposed to listing mako and porbeagle and anything else as migratory
- Is opposed to a mandatory ban on fishing for them [mako and porbeagle sharks] with no evidence of impact – this is consistent with an Appendix II listing which flags conservation concern but does not require stricter regulations.
- If there was concern in our region, it would have been in the CITES brief presented in 2008.
- Existing state regulations are extremely conservative for recreational fishers 1-2 fish per fisher in possession with boat and size limits also in place.
- Recreational fishers are concerned about the level of shark bycatch in commercial fisheries and state shark protection programs.
- Recreational fishers have taken the lead in protecting shark species in many states – e.g. sawfish and Glyphis spp in WA and NT and others.
- Internationally, gamefishers have an undisputed reputation and recognition as conservationists and our commitment to conservation and research is highly regarded, it’s high time we were shown the same respect in Australia.
The 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention forInternational Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is set to take place inQatar in March.