GARRETT MAINTAINS PRESSURE ON NSW OVER ENDANGERED SHARK
The Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has given the NSW Government yet another chance to enact sanctuaries for the critically endangered grey nurse shark before threatening the export of fish products from one of the state’s fisheries.
The Federal Minister is required to assess the environmental impacts of the NSW Ocean Trap and Line Fishery and decide whether to grant it export approval as an approved Wildlife Trade Operation. The fishery is a key threat to the grey nurse shark population and a major contributor to the species’ slide to extinction on the east coast of Australia.
The previous approved Wildlife Trade Operation for the fishery expires tomorrow and the NSW Government failed to fully implement a condition attached to it requiring fishing closures at grey nurse critical habitat sites. Consequently, HSI had called for the export approval to be revoked and the suspension of exports from the fishery until NSW enacted sanctuaries at all remaining critical habitat sites.
Minister Garrett has just re-issued the Wildlife Trade Operation for a period of 6 months on the condition that the NSW Government closes additional grey nurse critical habitat sites by May 2008.
“HSI is pleased Minister Garrett is maintaining pressure on NSW and not accepting their half hearted attempts to fulfil the condition”, said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager.
“However, the NSW Government has been extremely recalcitrant on this issue for 6 years now and allowing mortalities to continue for another 6 months could be critical for a species so close to extinction.
“This has to be the last chance for NSW. If the grey nurse shark population becomes extinct, it wont be getting a second chance”, said Ms Beynon.
If the NSW Government has still not comprehensively protected all grey nurse shark critical habitat sites by May 2008, HSI will be expecting Minister Garrett to have the courage to suspend exports from the fishery.