A special release for SeaWeek 2005 (6 - 13 March 2005).
SeaWeek is an annual, national celebration of Australia's oceans and the challenges it faces. The theme for SeaWeek 2005 is 'Save our Sharks'.
Australia's ocean encompasses over 16 million square kilometres and is home to over 300 species of sharks. But this year's celebration comes with a stern warning to all Australians from the nations leading marine conservation organisation, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS):
Australia's Shark populations are in decline causing alarm bells to ring throughout the community. Commercial and recreational fishing in particular is putting many species at risk of extinction. With breeding patterns like that of whales and dolphins, sharks must be protected and treasured in the same manner if we are to save them from population crashes and even extinction.
It is time we stop killing Australia's sharks.
1. Sharks and rays are killed in their millions each year by commercial and recreational fishing in Australian waters. Sharks are killed in over 70 Australian commercial fisheries alone.
2. Like whales and dolphins, Sharks are long lived, slow growing, late to mature, produce few young and have long pregnancies. This makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing impacts. Sharks are not like other fish and many species may not even recover once their populations have crashed.
3. Australia's tropical sharks are at great risk due to the recent rapid expansion in shark fin fishing
4. Australia's harmless Grey Nurse Shark in eastern Australia is critically endangered. The NSW Government must fully protect the critical habitats of this species now.
5. Australia's deepwater sharks are at great risk due to deep sea fishing, particularly bottom trawling, gillnetting and longline fishing.
6. Sharks are top order predators that keep ecosystems in balance. Removal of sharks may have unpredictable, yet potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems. Sharks are therefore more valuable alive than dead!
1. Australia should stop the targeted fishing for sharks and ban the export of shark fins.
2. Australia should continue to invest in shark research (because we know virtually nothing about most species) but at the same time work to minimise the bycatch of sharks by both commercial and recreational fishers.
3. Australia should establish sea sanctuaries, or refuges in the sea where sharks, such as deepwater sharks, which are already under severe threat, are protected from incidental or accidental fishing impacts.
4. Australians can help protect Australia's sharks by not eating shark (flake) or stingray flaps (see the AMCS sustainable Seafood Guide at www.amcs.org.au
for more information).
Adele Pedder, Northern Marine Campaigner - 0422 108 539 or (08) 8941 7461
Craig Bohm, National Fisheries Campaigner - 0427 133 481 or (07) 1800 066 299
Ingrid Neilson, Grey Nurse Shark Campaigner: 0421 972 731, 1800 066 299