HSI calls for first environmental assessment of shark meshing after grey nurse shark deaths
Humane Society International (HSI) has called on the Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt to call in the NSW shark meshing program for its first commonwealth environmental assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1998 (EPBC Act). This has been prompted by the death of 11 critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks since 2011, a number which is highly concerning the fact they are only a little over a thousand Grey Nurse Sharks on the east coast.
While an environmental assessment of the shark meshing program has been carried out in NSW, there has never been a Federal assessment of this program under the more stringent federal environmental laws. If a program such as this has a significant impact on a listed Matter of National Environmental Significance which includes listed threatened species such as the Grey Nurse Shark.
HSI director Michael Kennedy said, “The Environment Minister must call in this program for assessment and reverse the increasingly backwards appearance of the Federal Australian Government in its approach to the protection of Australian sharks and marine life in general. With the NSW shark meshing program never being assessed at a federal level before, under a stricter set of environmental laws, the impacts of this program have gone unnoticed by the State Government.
“The shark meshing program is an outdated policy from the 1930’s that is a blunt instrument, indiscriminately killing many marine species in order to deplete populations of sharks. The threat of being attacked by a shark is actually a comparatively small one, and certainly does not justify the disastrous impact this program has on marine species, especially the Grey Nurse Shark.”
Mr Kennedy continued, “The impact on species such as the critically endangered grey nurse shark has a significant impact on that species. Every breeding individual is important for the survival of this shark, there only being around 1326 grey nurse sharks off the east coast of Australia, a number which is not positive for the long-term viability of the species. The Grey Nurse Shark population on the east coast is highly susceptible to even low levels of mortality because of its’ low reproduction rates and late maturation.
The fact that eleven grey nurses were killed in shark nets over a four year period means the program needs urgent assessment by the Federal Government as if this program continues with these impacts unassessed, we will likely see the eventual extinction of the Grey Nurse Shark on the east coast,” Mr Kennedy concluded.