Anglers vent anger over shark bans

Public meeting calls on Federal Government to delay ban

Anglers vent anger over shark bans
Anglers vent anger over shark bans

More than 350 angry anglers attended a public meeting in Hastings, Victoria, last week to voice their disapproval at a ban on fishing for mako and porbeagle sharks in Australian Commonwealth Waters as of the end of January, the Bass Strait Game Fishing Club (BSGFC) said.

The BSGFC, which helped organise the meeting, said anglers are calling on Peter Garrett, the Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts, to delay the ban until a flaw in the controversial EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) is remedied.

"Under legal advice sought by the State’s peak representative body for anglers, VRFish, Garrett has the ‘room to move’ ability under the EPBC by granting an interim exemption," said the club. "It seems that the sharks have been placed on the international endangered migratory species listings due to apparent short numbers in Mediterranean waters."

The BSGFC said Garrett has enraged anglers by enacting the ban contrary to his statement in September 2009 where he agreed to delay the decision until after a current review of the shortfalls in Australia’s legislation.

According to the club, a large groundswell of opposition has arisen among the anglers Australia-wide in opposition to the decision on the basis that there is no scientific evidence that mako Sharks are at unhealthy levels in Australian waters.

"Anglers have been recording and collating data from a pro-active, voluntary tagging program for more than 20 years, and have evidence that the sharks are in-fact non transitory to Northern Hemisphere waters," said the BSGFC.

"A recent Ernst and Young report commissioned by VRFish found that the recreational fishing industry in Australia is worth $2.3 billion a year to the Victorian economy, and gamefishing for sharks is a large part of this figure. In Victoria, mako sharks are one of only three species sought by offshore gamefishermen, the others being tuna and yellowtail kingfish, so this ban will have a devastating effect to our local economy.

"Moreover, it takes away yet another pastime for many thousands of recreational fishers," BSGFC said.

Local recreational angler John Willis said: "I’d rather be eating a nice piece of freshly caught mako from our pristine Australian waters than a slab of contaminated, imported Mekong River catfish."

The BSGFC said local Member for Hastings, Neale Burgess, addressed the lively and well attended meeting and stated that this was "a tragedy occurring in our community".

"He also reminded us that the Brumby Government has not objected to the ban," said meeting organisers.

"Both he and the State Opposition are totally opposed to the ban," Burgess said.

The Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts and local Member for Flinders, Greg Hunt, stated clearly that the ban was a "massive overkill" and that there was, "no way he (Garrett) needed to go to that position."

The BSGFC said Hunt also recommended that Garrett:
1. Postpone the ban pending the results of the current review;
2. Consult broadly with the overall community; and,
3. Implement a management plan that does not include "No Take" Legislation.

Meeting organisers said that recreational anglers strongly support this process and call on Mr. Garrett to act with utmost urgency to overturn this most destructive, divisive, nonsensical and scientifically unsubstantiated attack on the sport.

For further information, contact Dale McClelland,
BSGFC Publicity, phone 0400 902 492, or Daron Proudlock,
BSGFC President, phone 0418 140 363

Image: The shortfin mako is one of three sharks that anglers will not be able to fish for after


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