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18 February 2009 - Perspective needs to return to shark coverage Sharks need more protection, not less      

Perspective needs to return to shark coverage as sharks need more protection, not less

18 February 2009                                          
                                                                                                                                       

Humane Society International (HSI) has launched a campaign to end targeted shark fishing in Australia and a ban on the export of their fins.

Contrary to baseless media reports of shark ‘plagues’, shark species are in serious trouble in Australia and around the world, unable to cope with escalating fishing pressure and rising demand for their fins.

Scientists have estimated that the global biomass of large predatory fish species such as sharks has decreased by 90%. IUCN, the international body that classifies threatened species, says that of the world’s 1,046 species of sharks and their relatives approximately 17% are threatened with extinction, 13% are considered ‘near threatened’, and we simply do not know the status of a further 47%.

In Australia, seven species of shark are protected as threatened and four more are being considered for protection because fishing has driven their populations so low. IUCN has upgraded the threat level for several shark species actively targeted in Australian fisheries. Sharks are inherently vulnerable to over-fishing due to their slow reproductive capacities.

“HSI warns that people need to maintain a sensible perspective on the serious state of shark conservation in Australia and not let it be skewed by an apparent seasonal and local variation in shark distribution in the Sydney region,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager.

“HSI deplores representatives of the fishing industry that are taking advantage of tragic shark attacks to argue for an increase in their quotas to kill sharks, especially as they are likely to involve completely different species,” said Ms Beynon. “We congratulate NSW Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald for standing firm against such commercially motivated, disingenuous and opportunistic lobbying”

 “Despite grave concerns for the health of shark populations, shark fishing is on the increase in Australia, largely to feed the surging demand for fins in Asia,” said Ms Beynon. "It is incredible that in this day and age Australia still allows the large-scale hunting of endangered animals,"

HSI has presented policy recommendations to the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, calling for an end to targeted shark fishing in Australia and a ban on the export and import of their fins - recommendations available at www.hsi.org.au.





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