The Queensland Parliament has passed the Fisheries (Sustainable Fisheries) Amendment Bill 2018. Some of the changes the Bill provides are welcomed by Humane Society International (HSI), however other amendments fall well short of providing transparency for sustainability and shark conservation.
Welcome changes to fisheries legislation in Queensland include an increase in the number of fisheries officers on the water and the implementation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on commercial fishing vessels. These measures aim to eradicate illegal fishing and make it much more difficult for black market fishers to sell their catch, an important goal critical to ensuring the sustainability of Queensland's fisheries.
However, the legislation left out a basic tenant of responsible management of shark fisheries to require accurate identification and monitoring of the species caught.
"Once again, Queensland has fallen short by failing to adopt a fins-naturally-attached policy for sharks. Fins-naturally-attached is a basic management policy for shark fisheries worldwide. It allows sharks to be correctly identified, so that catch can be properly quantified and stocks can be responsibly managed. HSI criticises the catch of endangered hammerhead sharks in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and exporting of their fins for soup, but if it is going to happen, then the basic global standard for shark fisheries management is the least we expect of the Queensland Government,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for HSI.
Additionally, in a brazen move to prevent independent documentation of the wildlife cost of Queensland's lethal Shark Control Program, the Amendment Bill includes legislation to enact a 20 metre exclusion zone around all shark control equipment, citing "public safety.” HSI and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have been documenting wildlife caught on lethal shark control program equipment, and last year released photographs and video footage of dead endangered sharks hooked on lethal drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef.
"The Queensland Government's exclusion zones around shark control equipment is simply a measure to keep the slaughter of sharks and marine wildlife hidden from public view. This is not about public safety, rather it's a blatant tactic to reduce public scrutiny by a government under increased public pressure to end its archaic culling program,” concluded Ms Beynon.
Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan
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