Shark protection dealt a blow
Efforts to conserve migratory sharks were today dealt a blow when the federal Environment Minister moved amendments to Australia’s environment law to remove protection afforded to three shark species listed as migratory under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. This move comes just a few weeks after Australia played an active role in international negotiations, calling for action for the protection of the world’s migratory sharks.
The changes proposed to the legislation will allow game fishers to continue to catch and kill shortfin mako, longfin mako, and porbeagle sharks. All three of these shark species are listed as vulnerable to extinction globally, and the main threat facing all three of these species is fishing. The Minister’s media release is misleading when he says the migratory species listing was based primarily on concerns for northern hemisphere populations alone.
Prior to the lobbying offensive from the game fishers, Minister Garrett had placed the short fin mako on his priority list for assessment as a threatened species – proving he does have concern for the species’ conservation status in Australia.
‘Australia has both international and domestic obligations to protect its migratory sharks, yet the proposed amendments to legislation are instead giving recreational fishers a free ride to take as many of these listed migratory sharks as they wish, with no requirement to report or manage the take of these species’ said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. ‘It is clear that this Government is prepared to bow to the recreational fishers at the expense of the future of our threatened sharks’.
This is the first time the EPBC Act has been amended to specifically undo protection for a listed species. It is a dangerous signal to hunters and fishers that if they lobby hard enough, the Government will cave in to their demands and compromise their policies and obligations to protect biodiversity.