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12 May 2008 - Australian Governments Urged to Stop Senseless Shark Slaughter      

Australian Governments Urged to Stop Senseless Shark Slaughter

12 May 2008


Environmental groups today joined forces with international shark activists Rob Stewart and Valerie Taylor to call on the Federal and State Governments to stop the senseless slaughter of sharks in Australian waters and halt the trade in shark fins.

The call to restrict shark fishing follows the Australian premiere of the award-winning movie Sharkwater in Sydney last Sunday. Directed by Rob Stewart, the documentary film highlights the slaughter of sharks around the world due to the trade in shark fins.

“Shark catches in NSW alone have ballooned from 60 to 300 tonnes over the past ten years as consumer appetite for shark fin soup has grown,” said Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“Sharks are particularly susceptible to overfishing because most species grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young. As the top predator in the most important ecosystem on earth, a collapse in their numbers could see a catastrophic imbalance in marine life, including phytoplankton which gives us 70% of the oxygen we breathe” Mr Stewart, director of the film Sharkwater said.

“As well as overfishing, sharks are threatened by accidental catch on longline and other fisheries,” said Jason Collins of Greenpeace.

“The World Conservation Union again confirmed the dire plight of the world’s sharks earlier this year, upgrading the threatened status of nine shark species on their Red List of Threatened Species,” said Danielle Annese of Humane Society International. “Due to poor regulations and the shark fin trade, global populations of some species have declined by more than 95 per cent since the 1970s.”

“Conservationists call on the Federal Government to stop the export of shark fins until action is taken to demonstrate the sustainability of the fishery,” Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund coordinator Claudette Rechtorik said.

“We need better management of our fisheries to prevent overfishing and the associated tragic and unnecessary deaths from bycatch,” said Nicky Hammond, of National Parks Association of NSW.

“This needs to be coupled with the creation of fully protected marine sanctuaries where sharks can live and breed in as natural an environment as possible, safe from fishing.”

“There are 1100 known species of shark, ray and chimaeras globally and it’s been estimated that around 20 per cent of these species are threatened with extinction. It is critically important that stronger actions are taken to protect shark species not only in NSW but also around the world,” said Dr Gilly Llewellyn, WWF.

“Today we come together to call on our Australian and state governments to stop looking at the fisheries dollar signs,” concluded Valerie Taylor.





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