Spearfishermen convicted for harming Greynurse Shark
NSW Department of Industry, Australia
08. September 2016
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Two spearfishermen have been convicted for harming a critically endangered Greynurse Shark at Mona Vale in Sydney following a citizen-assisted investigation.
One of the men returned from overseas to face Manly Local Court last week where both men pleaded guilty and were placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay costs of $1750 each.
Greynurse Sharks are known as a placid species and not a threat to divers or swimmers unless provoked. In NSW, they are listed as critically endangered in the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
The prosecuted pair claimed the shark was shot in ‘self-defence’ with one of them saying he believed he was being attacked.
The Magistrate remarked during sentencing that the men would be in jail if he believed they were actively hunting these endangered sharks.
DPI Fisheries compliance officers caught up with the pair after public feedback from an appeal.
Photographs of the two men on the beach with the speared shark – taken by a member of the public – were sent to DPI Fisheries and used in a Facebook and media campaign late last year to help identify the men.
The appeal on the Fisheries Facebook page reached 126,000 people, and has been shared 435 times and received 162 comments.
“The spearfishing community does not condone this and will help in any way to catch these guys,” was one of the comments that echoed other sentiment.
The largest and most significant Greynurse Shark aggregation sites in NSW are declared as ‘critical habitat’, meaning they are essential for the survival of the species. Special rules apply at those sites to minimise the impact of fishing and diving activities.
Maximum penalties of $220,000 and/or two years imprisonment apply for harming, buying, selling or possessing an endangered species such as the Greynurse Shark.
DPI District Fisheries Officer Joel Cox, who led the appeal and investigation, thanked the community for their assistance.
“We’re very grateful to the community who helped us bring these people to court, including several witnesses who attended the court prepared to give evidence. A conviction and 12 month good behaviour bond with professional costs awarded against the men is a significant outcome,” he said.
A DPI Fisheries scientist identified the shark as an immature male, approximately 1.87 metres long and weighing 40 kg, that was healthy and in good condition before being speared.
Source: NSW DPI
Please see related previous press release by USFA, August 2015: