AUS: Victoria to maintain fishing for thresher sharks despite CMS listing
VRFish – Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body
21. January 2015
VRFish welcomes moves to maintain thresher shark fishing in Victoria
VRFish, the peak body representing Victoria’s recreational fishers, today welcomed moves by the Australian Government to maintain recreational fishing for thresher sharks in Commonwealth waters adjacent to Victoria.
The recent listing of five species of shark (three thresher and two hammerhead species) under the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) was due come into effect on 8 February 2014, triggering their listing under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). However, in line with VRFish submissions prior to the meeting of CMS parties about the value of the common thresher to recreational fishers and low risk posed to this species by recreational fishing, the Australian Government has sought a reservation from listing the species under the EPBC Act.
The CMS and subsequent EPBC Act listing had the potential to disproportionately and inequitably impact on recreational fishing in Victoria and other jurisdictions. If listed, it would be an offence recreational fishers to harm or injure the listed species, even where the species are unintentionally caught when targeting other species.
VRFish General Manager, Dallas D’Silva said “Victoria has a small but highly prized recreational fishery for thresher sharks. Thresher sharks are one of the premier game fishing species in the State, providing considerable socioeconomic benefits to regional locations from Portland to Mallacoota.”
Marty Ellul, VRFish State Council member and experienced game fisher added, “The common thresher shark is seasonally abundant at many coastal locations across the State. Victoria already has conservative management controls in place for recreational fishing. We applaud this common sense decision by the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and the Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck.”
VRFish strongly supports cooperative action by countries to ensure they address the real risk to thresher and other shark species, which includes targeted commercial fishing, by-catch, illegal and unregulated shark finning operations and the trade in shark fins. Targeted commercial fishing and trade in shark fins needs to be better managed and brought in line with Australian standards.
Dallas D’Silva highlighted “We remain concerned with the inappropriate way in which the EPBC Act responds to CMS listings. As has been highlighted by past listings (Mako and Porbeagle sharks) and the Hawke review, the EPBC Act needs to be adjusted to remove its current inflexible, draconian responsiveness to CMS listings.”
VRFish supports an integrated, evidence-based approach to thresher shark fishery management in Australia and would like to see the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) fund a national workshop to share the available scientific data, identify future information needs and develop a national management plan for the fishery.