Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Australia. Sabotaging Eco Tourism?

I hate to say it, but Australia is at it again. After hunting down a tagged shark for simply being too close to shore, they now have declared their intention to "opt out of protections for 5 shark species".

The guardian writes that The government is submitting a “reservation” against three species of thresher shark and two species of hammerhead shark listed as protected migratory species under the UN-administered convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals.
The five types of shark were among 31 species granted new protection status at a convention summit in November. A record 21 species of shark and ray, including sawfish, were put on the list along with polar bears, whales and gazelles.

Although Australia did not object to the listings in November, it is now seeking to opt out of the commitment to cooperate with other countries to ensure the five migratory shark species do not become extinct. The expanded list is due to come into effect on 8 February.

Since sharks are a vital part of a healthy ocean environment it seems that the government is not too concerned about losing all the tourists who visit Australia to dive and enjoy the incredible reefs they have. The only ones they care about is the fishermen. The article quotes Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at Humane Society International "the opt-out was to appease commercial and recreational fishers, some of whom catch threshers and hammerhead sharks as primary catch or as bycatch for other species. “This is a political decision, it has nothing to do with conservation, which is pretty pathetic really,” she said. “Australia has always spoken out against other countries making reservations under these kinds of treaties, so this move is really concerning.

The article states "A spokesman for the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, said the government’s move was to avoid “unintended consequences” for fishers in Australia, who would risk being fined up to $170,000 and face two years in jail even if they obeyed their permits.  

So they say that their laws are too harsh for the fishermen who kill these sharks and instead of changing the punishment for the killing, they just kill the protection for these sharks. Sound reasoning indeed. (sharkasm intended)

Read the entire article here 

Dashark's reaction here 

I recommend that you send your opinion to the Australian tourism website here and click on the feedback link.  You can also visit their Facebook page and leave a comment there.

If the politicians won't listen to us, maybe their tourist board is more receptive.

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver
About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.