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Global reef shark study highlights importance of shark conservation in Australia
With shark populations crashing across many of the world’s coral reefs, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI) say the research, published in Nature, underscores how important it is that Australia looks after its shark populations.
AMCS advise that “Australia cannot be complacent because there are still serious shark conservation issues within our World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and we don’t want our shark populations to follow the same path.”
New research which shows that sharks have almost disappeared from a number of reefs around the world highlights the importance of conservation efforts to support their populations marine conservationists say.
The study found that in some countries sharks have been so depleted that they were now ‘functionally extinct’. It said Australia was among the nations with relatively healthier reef shark populations on our tropical reefs.
Dr Leonardo Guida, shark scientist and spokesperson for AMCS, said there's plenty of room for improvement in shark conservation in Australia with ongoing issues, such as fishing for critically endangered shark species on our Great Barrier Reef.
Dr Guida notes “the study shows that Australia is comparing favourably to countries where sharks are alarmingly disappearing from reefs. Australia’s relatively good performance is due to decades of science-based conservation efforts and advocacy by scientists and organisations like AMCS and HIS.
“But research is also telling us that several of our shark species are declining in our waters so we shouldn’t be resting on our laurels when it comes to managing threats like destructive fishing practices and global warming.
“We need the Queensland government to introduce long overdue fisheries reforms such as gillnetting, overfishing, illegal fishing in our Great Barrier Reef - these impact shark species like the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead as well as turtles and dugongs.”
Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with HSI said the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s 2019 Outlook Report found the future for iconic Reef wildlife including sharks was failing to improve with fishing pressures and removal of apex predators as key threats.
Chlebeck adds “sharks are essential to our Reef because they help bring ecosystem balance and health, in turn bringing significant economic benefits to Queensland.
“The Queensland Government needs to stop culling sharks. The science shows it doesn't improve bather safety and only further harms our fragile marine ecosystems.”
AMCS and HSI are currently running a joint campaign “Shark Champions” supported by the Shark Conservation Fund, which is seeking to improve the conservation of sharks by improving the sustainability of Australia’s fisheries and environmental laws.
Original paper can be accessed at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2519-y
Image of critically endangered scalloped hammerhead courtesy of NSW Department of Primary Industries
27th April 2020 - Western Australia’s shark SMART drumline trial to be extended
18th February 2020 - Shark drumlines returned to Far North Queensland beaches within Marine Park
12th December 2019 - Conservation groups call for action on Australia’s endangered sharks
19th November 2019 - Shark-proof wet suit material could reduce injuries
28th October 2019 - Western Australian Government launches Shark Smart WA app
23rd May 2019 - Ningaloo Whale Sharks inspire Festival and Conference
26th February 2019 - Margaret River Pro to remain on World Surf League schedule despite shark fears
12th February 2019 - Smart Shark Management drumlines trialled across Sydney beaches
11th December 2018 - Shark receivers to be installed at Western Australian beaches
6th November 2018 - Third Whitsundays shark attack leads to fatality
24th September 2018 - Conservationist says that Whitsundays shark attacks occurred in swimming ‘no-go zone’
22nd September 2018 - Tiger sharks killed in wake of Whitsundays tourist attacks
21st September 2018 - Two injured over consecutive days in Whitsunday shark attacks
26th February 2017 - NSW shark nets kill endangered dolphins and turtles
2nd February 2017 - New anti-shark enclosure opens at Western Australia’s Quinns Beach
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