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14th September - Shark culling programs avoid scientific scruitiny      



14th September 2017

Humane Society International is criticising Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s decision not to include shark culling programs in a list of priority nominations he wants his scientific committee to assess for their impact on threatened species.

Humane Society International nominated lethal shark nets and drumlines for listing as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). The Minister yesterday announced the latest FPAL (Finalised Priority Assessment List) for EPBC Act nominations and our nomination for shark culling programs was not on the list.

“Lethal shark nets and drumlines are killing threatened species in significant numbers warranting urgent scientific assessment. There have been 23 critically endangered grey nurse sharks killed in NSW nets in the last five years alone,” Humane Society International’s Head of Campaigns Nicola Beynon said today.

“This is not the first time the Minister has allowed shark nets to evade proper scientific scrutiny. Last year the Minister invoked a rarely used ‘national interest’ exemption so that the installation of lethal shark nets on the NSW North Coast did not have to undergo usual environmental impact assessment processes. Humane Society International considered that an abuse of the exemption.

“Now, with the enormous public controversy and concern over the impact of lethal shark nets and drumlines, it would have been appropriate for the Minister to respond by referring them to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee for priority scientific assessment,” continued Ms Beynon.

The NSW Shark Meshing Program is already recognised as a Key Threatening Process under NSW threatened species laws for its impact on the critically endangered grey nurse shark. The criteria for listing a key threat under Commonwealth law is very similar and would include consideration of the impact of culling programs in both NSW and Queensland.

“Shark culling programs in Queensland have killed almost 104,000 animals, including 5,000 protected marine turtles, 15,000 harmless hammerhead sharks, 18,000 rays, and almost 2,000 dolphins and dugongs. It is hard to see how these figures do not make the nets a priority for assessment as a key threat to marine wildlife,” Ms Beynon concluded.

Frustrated by the lack of scientific rigour to culling programs, Humane Society International has taken the opportunity to challenge the culling program for sharks in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in court. The court case is pending. Humane Society International is pleased Minister Frydenberg has put forward to the committee for assessment a number of Threatened Ecological Communities the organisation has nominated and we look forward to them being assessed and protected in due course.

*Join Humane Society International, shark advocates and the NSW Greens this Sunday the 17th September at 10:30am at Bondi Beach, Sydney to rally against the use of Shark Nets in NSW. For more details click here.


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