Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Protection of Shark Species
That the Senate—
(a) recognises that:
(i) sharks play an important role as apex predators in marine ecosystems, and
(ii) world shark populations are falling by between 63 to 273 million per year due to fisheries overexploitation;
(b) notes that the Australian Government has entered reservations against five shark species (big-eyed, pelagic and common thresher sharks, and scalloped and great hammerheads) under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, removing those shark species from the full protection otherwise provided by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act); and
(c) calls on the Australian Government to remove reservations for those five shark species, and to provide them full protection under the Act, by continuing to list Appendices I and II species on the Convention on Migratory Species as 'migratory species' under the Act.
Australia strongly supports the MOU on the conservation of migratory sharks under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and was the 14th country to sign. Australia has some of the best protections in the world for sharks for sustainable fisheries under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Our domestic protections go well beyond what is required under the convention. We have also committed $23.9 million to establish the Marine Biodiversity Hub under the National Environmental Science Program. A significant focus of this hub is research into shark species. In 2015, Australia entered a reservation to the convention for the listing of five shark species because, without it, recreational fishers would have been liable for large fines even if they accidentally caught one of the sharks. The reservation has no effect on the protection of these shark species in Australia.