Australia's Great Barrier Reef should be a refuge for sharks

Posted on May 22, 2008
Written by: Shark Savers

Did you know that one of the most famous marine preserves in the world, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, has commercial fishing of sharks within its waters? That means boats with gill nets trying to catch as many sharks as they can within one of the most treasured reef ecosystems on the planet.

Australia's state of Queensland, which includes the Great Barrier Reef, now wants to go further and provide licenses to officially sanction the fishing of sharks. What's more, there is no hard quota of how many sharks a licensed fisherman can catch, such as we have in the United States. There is only a 'catch trigger': when 700 tons of sharks have been caught, and the Queensland ministry finds out that level has been reached, it has 3 months to convene a review. And then decide what to do about it. So much for regulation and urgency. Nor are all of the shark species that are threatened with extinction protected from fishing. Only 4 out of the 28 species in need of protection will get any.

The plan for creating shark fishing licenses is in the name of promoting sustainability of shark fishing. But it seems to protect the shark fisheries far more than any sharks. Read the proposal from the Queensland, Australia Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) and decide for yourself (and then sign our petition).

Documents from Queensland DPI&F:
Have Your Say: Summary of proposed changes, Queensland, Australia DPI&F 
Have Your Say: Regulatory Impact Statement and draft Public Benefit Test, Queensland, Australia DPI&F

At a time when sharks are being fished out of existence all throughout the world, and theIUCN is adding six more sharks to its endangered list , the Queensland shark fishing policies are going in the wrong direction. Instead of protecting shark fisheries from competition, they should be protecting shark populations from further depletion. Marine Protected Areas such as the Great Barrier Reef need to be off limits to shark fishing.

Please sign the petition to stop the creation of a licensed shark fishery in the Great Barrier Reef.