Australia denies domestic protection for globally threatened migratory sharks – in favour of commercial and sport fishermen
In November 2014, Humane Society International (HSI) welcomed the unprecedented new global conservation measures agreed for a range of shark and ray species (21 species) under the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), an important campaign we were very proud to be involved in, with the listings due to come into force on 8th February 2015.
But in an unprecedented act of domestic and international environmental vandalism, the Australian Government will shortly be taking out a reservation against the listings of all three species of thresher sharks and two hammerhead sharks which were provided with crucial international protection at the November CMS meeting. This means that Australia is refusing to take action for these species in their own waters – and they will not be bound by the measure that they actually supported at the CMS meeting late last year. While Australia has been a long-term and strong conservation player at the CMS, it has NEVER BEFORE taken a reservation against a globally agreed conservation measure by the treaty.
“The lodging of a reservation against these important migratory shark listings sends a clear and very disturbing international signal, and it is not one which we should be proud of. In effect, Australia is saying to the world that we are not willing to take action at home, as we are far more concerned with how commercial and sport fishermen vote – it is an entirely political decision of which we should be ashamed” said HSI’s Alexia Wellbelove.
“The science clearly demonstrates that the catch of Scalloped hammerhead sharks has decreased by 70% over a ten year period and that hammerheads are particularly sensitive, often not surviving release from fishing hooks. In other words, research is showing that hammerhead sharks that are caught (after a long and strenuous fight for their lives and then released) then die.”
“It is hard to comprehend that despite the listing by the global treaty, despite the listing of the Scalloped and Great hammerhead sharks as threatened species under the NSW Fisheries Management Act and despite the fact that the Scalloped and Great hammerhead sharks are being assessed for their conservation status by the Commonwealth’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee, this is apparently still not enough to ensure their protection by the Commonwealth Government – because in their eyes, fishing politics and not shark conservation comes first,” continued Ms Wellbelove.
“This is yet another example of the Australian Government failing our marine environment at a time when everything should be done to protect our migratory sharks. HSI is therefore calling on Minister Hunt and the Australian Government to reconsider their position and withdraw these reservations, and to give these species full no-take protection under national environment law,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.
The reservation is expected to be lodged with CMS by the Australian Government within the next week. HSI is seeking legal advice over the matter.