Report mooted as shark ban solution

Game fisherman, charter operators and tackle shop owners say the proposed bans on fishing mako sharks will cripple their sport, and the economy to the tune of $150 million a year.

A public meeting this week attracted more than 400 people to Torquay Angling Club, forcing organisers to move the rally outside as they called for the Rudd Government’s decision to be overturned.

Torquay Angling Club secretary Shane Korth said a Queenscliffcharter company, servicing 15,000 people each year, took 70 per cent ofits business from mako fishing.

As Fisho has reported previously at length, Environment Minister Peter Garrett is scheduled to list longfin mako, shortfin mako and porbeagle shark species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act from January 29.

The proposed ban comes as a result of a complex international treaty and despite Mr Garrett saying there is no evidence suggesting Australian mako shark populations are under threat.

Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said this week that recreational fishing for mako sharks was worth millions of dollars to the south-west Victorian economy.

“The proposed Commonwealth Government ban on fishing for mako sharks, to commence on 29 January, will really hurt local jobs and our local communities.”

In what may be a ray of hope for disgruntled game fishers Dr Napthine has suggested the implementation of a review as a solution to the proposed ban. Former senior Commonwealth public servant Dr Allan Hawke recently completed a massive review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) for Minister Peter Garrett.

“One of the clear recommendations of Dr Hawke was to review and amend Part 13 of the Act relating to migratory species to allow the take of migratory species if it can be demonstrated that the take would not be detrimental to the survival of the species.”

Dr Napthine said this recommendation exactly described the situation with mako sharks in Australia.

“The proposed ban is only being implemented in Australia because of concerns in European waters about the low numbers of mako sharks and, under the current wording of the Federal EPBC Act, Australia is forced to follow suit despite no such concerns existing in our waters.

“However, when the Federal Government adopts the changes to Part 13 of the Act recommended by Dr Hawke, Australia will not have to implement a ban on fishing mako sharks.

“Therefore Minister Garrett should make the changes recommended by Dr Hawke and NOT proceed with the ban on fishing mako sharks in Australian waters,” Dr Napthine said.

POSTSCRIPT: Fisho just received a press release from the Australian Marine Conservation Society titled “Help Save The Cheetah of the sea”.

Here are some excerpts from the green group’s emotive release: 

Your action needed to help protect our vulnerable sharks

Built for speed, mako sharks are highly migratory open ocean animals. Sometimes called the ‘cheetah of the seas’, these sleek, silver sharks can reach speeds of up to 72 km/h, making them the fastest shark on Earth.

In direct reference to the growing rec fishing opposition to the shark bans the release states: The Australian Government is considering protecting these species but a small, yet vocal minority are opposing it. We need to show the government they are doing the right thing.

The AMCS press release goes on to incorrectly state that catch & release will be allowed under the ban, a factor yet to be officially verified – see below. 

Certain fishing clubs and sports anglers are up in arms about the listing of these sharks, despite the fact that they will still be able to practise catch and release fishing of these vulnerable species under the law.

The release concludes by urging members of the public to notify the Federal Government that they are doing the right thing by protecting the “cheetahs of the sea”.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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