Opposition to Shark Fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Grows

Posted on June 2, 2008
Written by: Shark Savers

New York, NY, June 2, 2008—Shark Savers announced today that it has launched a petition to harness growing international opposition against new proposals of the Queensland, Australia government to license shark fishing in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. 

A historical first, the Queensland, Australia government is creating a dedicated shark fishery. The measures would establish formal shark fishing in critically vital and currently protected shark habitats including the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, the proposal offers no firm catch limit to the number of sharks that can be fished. 

Shark Savers, an organization dedicated to the grassroots conservation of sharks, is calling for international pressure to immediately stop these measures. The organization notes that shark populations around the world are plummeting due to relentless over fishing for sharks, primarily to satisfy demand for shark fin soup in Asia. Shark Savers believes a moratorium should be established on shark fishing, rather than create new fishing rights in delicate marine protected areas such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Great Barrier Reef should be a refuge for sharks. Developing countries such as Ecuador and Costa Rica have declared all sharks to be off-limits to fishing in their marine protected areas, Galapagos and Cocos. Certainly Australia can, as well,” said Michael Skoletsky, director of Shark Savers. “The shark fishermen are getting new protections—but it’s the sharks that need protection the most.”

“Research has repeatedly shown that sharks play an especially vital role for ocean ecosystems, When sharks are eliminated or decimated, severe problems are created down the food chain,” said Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science. “As a consequence of losing sharks, other species might be eliminated that are either important foods for humans or upon which the health of the reefs themselves is dependent.”

Shark Savers goal is to draw international attention to the proposal, spurning a public outcry and motivating other government agencies within Australia to get involved. “Australia stands to lose its precious shark population, jeopardize its lucrative tourism industry and forever tarnish its reputation as an environmental leader,” said Julie Andersen, director of Shark Savers. “We cannot afford to lose one of the world’s most treasured ecosystems and one of the key species that keeps it healthy.” 

For more information about the petition and Shark Savers, go to www.sharksavers.org 
The Shark Saver petition may be found here:http://www.sharksavers.org/content/view/260/109/ 

Shark Savers (www.sharksavers.org ) is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to saving the sharks through building awareness, education, and grassroots action.  Shark Savers enables people to learn, take action, share information, and find each other around the mission of saving sharks.