Garrett's gutless approach to shark protection
Humane Society International (HSI) is today extremely disappointed to learn that the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, is caving into the pressure of recreational fishers regarding the listing of mako and porbeagle sharks as migratory under federal environmental legislation. Under this legislation (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999) Government is required to list the shortfin mako, longfin mako, and porbeagle following their listing internationally on the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). Minister Garrett had already tried to avoid these listings until HSI’s lawyers advised him of his legal responsibilities.
HSI welcomed the proposed listing at the end of 2009. Migratory sharks are in decline worldwide and are extremely vulnerable to all forms of fishing. This fact was acknowledged by the Government’s own Committee which are currently assessing the shortfin mako for listing as a threatened species under federal environmental law, a review due to be completed in late 2011.
‘Listing of the mako and porbeagle sharks would allow these species protection in line with federal environmental law’ said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. ‘Garrett claims he wishes to protect our marine environment yet continues to oversee the decline of vulnerable shark species such as the mako sharks and porbeagle. Unless and until recreational fishers are able to provide the Government independent scientific advice of their claims, the Government must uphold their original decision to list the species. We therefore call on the Government to reinstate their decision to list the three shark species and undertake further research on the state of our shark populations’.
In light of scientific evidence worldwide of the decline of these shark species, HSI is calling for full protection of these sharks through listing as migratory species. Recent research demonstrates that mako sharks are vulnerable to gut hooking when caught, making post-release survival low. The EPBC Act requires a precautionary approach where the evidence is uncertain, but the Government is simply scared of the fishing lobby.