FRAG warns "fear our bite!"

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Protests continue over shark fishing bans

FRAG warns "fear our bite!"
FRAG warns “fear our bite!”

More than 500 of Victoria’s West Coast anglers held a meeting in Torquay yesterday (Wednesday, January 20)
to voice their disapproval at a decision made by the Federal Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts, Peter Garrett, to ban the taking of mako and porbeagle sharks as of January 29, 2010.

According to the Fishing Rights Action Group (FRAG), Garrett has enraged anglers with the ban due to a shortfall in Australia’s Legislation.

"It seems the sharks have been placed on the international endangered migratory species listings due to apparent short numbers in Mediterranean waters," said the FRAG press release.

"However, the species has been proven to be in good quantities, and is not transitory across hemispheres according to the evidence supplied by anglers from their self-imposed management and tagging program that has been running for over twenty years," it continued.

The anglers are calling on Minister Garrett to delay the ban until a flaw in the EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) is remedied. FRAG said a review has already recommended the Act introduce a "Management Species" criterion that reflects the International "Conservation of Migratory Species" Treaty. Currently the EPBC Act only allows total "No-Take" of listed species, it added.

"A large groundswell of opposition has arisen among 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," said FRAG.

"Mr. Garrett said himself in his own press release that the Government recognised that globally many populations of mako sharks were depleted; however, there was no evidence suggesting that Australian populations are similarly threatened.

"Moreover, it takes away yet another pastime for many thousands of recreational fishers who, combined, contribute a total of $2.3 billion to the state economy according to a recent report by Ernst & Young that was commissioned by VRFish, the State’s Peak representational Body," FRAG said.

The Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Senator for Tasmania, Richard Colbeck stated, "This is not good governance! Anglers are more than happy to comply with a sensible management regime", and that there has been "no genuine consultation and no real understanding of the impact of the decision."

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

FRAG said West Coast anglers fully support these recommendations and are angry over a total lack of consultation over the issue and are prepared to show their disapproval at the ballot box.

The meeting called on Minister Garrett to act with utmost urgency to overturn this most destructive, divisive, nonsensical and scientifically unsubstantiated attack on our sport.

Photos: Angry anglers met on Wednesday to discuss the ban on mako and porbeagle sharks in Torquay, Victoria.


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