Environment Minister fails to protect our sharks
Humane Society International (HSI) has today signalled its extreme disappointment with the news that the Environment Minister Peter Garrett is implementing a watered down decision with regards to the protection of three sharks under national environmental law. On Friday, the Minister announced that three shark species (shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle sharks), expected to be listed as migratory species under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC), at the end of January, would not be protected from catch and release fishing undertaken by recreational fishermen in Commonwealth waters.
‘This decision is a complete and gutless sop to recreational fishermen’ said Michael Kennedy of Humane Society International. ‘The implication is that the catch and release of these large sharks has no impact on their populations, a fact which cannot be substantiated by science, to say nothing of animal welfare and cruelty implications.
In the Minister’s release, it is claimed that there is no evidence to suggest Australian populations of the three shark species are threatened, despite Minister Mr Garrett’s own instruction to prioritise the assessment of the short fin mako for listing as a threatened species under the EPBC (after an HSI/NCC nomination). EPBC precautionary measures should have been used.
‘The Government’s decision smacks of a complete back-down in the face of protest from a small constituency of recreational fishers’ continued Mr Kennedy. ‘We urge the Minister to reconsider this decision to ensure full protection can be given to these three shark species. This also sets a very dangerous EPBC exemption precedent.’