Government must put shark conservation first on the first anniversary of Australia’s reservations
Humane Society International (HSI) has called on Environment Minister Greg Hunt to give an assurance that Australia will support the listings of 21 shark and ray species on the Sharks Memorandum of Understanding under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Convention). This is on the one year anniversary of Australia’s reservations against five species of shark under the same Convention following lobbying by recreational fishers.
In January 2015, the Australian Government entered ‘reservations’ under the Convention against five species of migratory sharks: three species of thresher shark (big-eyed, pelagic and common) and two species of hammerhead (scalloped and great). Entering a reservation means the country essentially ‘opts out’ of the Convention in relation to the species they’ve specified.
HSI Director Michael Kennedy said, “Global shark species populations are plummeting as a result of over-fishing, shark finning and a lack of protections for their critical habitat. Australia must do all it can to ensure the international protection of shark species under the Convention on Migratory Species, and to reverse its recent track record as an obstacle to shark conservation.
“One year ago, the Australian Government bowed to pressure from recreational fishers who were concerned that they would no longer be able to catch thresher sharks, which are a big game fishing species once those species, were protected by the Convention. Under Australian law, a listing under the Convention results in an automatic listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), making killing those species prohibited. Australia’s reservations mean that those species are not listed under the EPBC Act and allow recreational fishers to continue killing shark species which are internationally threatened," Mr. Kennedy continued.
“We call on the Environment Minister to support the listing of these sharks on the Sharks MoU Agreement, and to reverse the reservations which has seen Australia wilt from pressure by minority fishing interests rather than motivated by international cooperation for conservation,” Mr. Kennedy concluded.