The Federal Government is caving into the pressure from recreational fishers and charter boat operators regarding the listing of porbeagle, shortfin and longfin mako sharks under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
In December 2009 the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett made an announcement that they would be listing three species of shark: the shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle, as migratory species under the EPBC Act. The listing of these species was a result of a requirement of the EPBC Act that species protected under the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) would automatically become protected under Federal legislation.
However Minister Garret has recently announced he will not be listing these species under the EPBC Act due to claims that they are not at risk in Australian waters. Wildlife Queensland is outraged at this decision. Under the Federal legislation the Government is obliged to take into consideration the precautionary principle. These vulnerable species must be protected under the EPBC Act until there is independent scientific evidence to indicate that their populations are sufficiently robust to allow fishing to continue.
Migratory sharks are one of the most threatened groups of marine species and in decline worldwide. Their slow growth rate, late maturity and slow reproduction rates make them extremely vulnerable to all forms of fishing. The global declines of the porbeagle, longfin and shortfin mako have been so severe that all are now listed as 'vulnerable' by the IUCN. The vulnerability of the shortfin mako has in fact been recognised by the Australian Government which is currently assessing it for listing as a threatened species under the EPBC Act. This review is not due to be completed until late 2011.
The protection of migratory species requires a concerted international effort. Wildlife Queensland is strongly opposed to the Government taking actions that disregard our international obligations to protect internationally vulnerable species. Wildlife Queensland is extremely concerned that in the face of pressure from a small section of the community the Government is willing to compromise its own legislation and international agreements. This sets a precedent where the Commonwealth Government is prepared to arbitrarily change long-standing and strong environmental legislative provisions in the face of pressure from what are essentially, commercial interests.
What you can do
Write to Minister Garrett
- express your concern for his recent announcement.
- tell him to enact our federal environmental legislation and protect our migratory sharks.
- remind him of the Governments obligations to act under the precautionary principle and protect these species until such scientific evidence is available that indicates their populations are sufficiently robust to allow fishing to occur.
- Tell him that caving into pressure from recreational fishers on this issue, creates a dangerous precedent for other marine conservation issues.
What Wildlife Queensland is doing
Wildlife Queensland recently wrote to the Minister expressing their concerns.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.