Monday 2 May 2011

Increased Risk to Critically Endangered Shark

The new NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, recently announced that she would revoke the protection afforded the critically endangered Grey Nurse Shark around Fish Rock and Green Island on the Mid North Coast, a very important habitat area for these sharks.

According to the Minister, the Government wanted to put the closures introduced in January by the former government back out to public consultation for a further three months “to ensure the best outcome is achieved for both the grey nurse shark population and the local community.”[1]

It is highly unlikely that this decision will produce the “best outcome” for the shark even if the Government decides to reintroduce the January protection measures after three months. The former government had restricted recreational fishing around Fish Rock and Green Island because of the threat that embedded hooks from recreational fishers posed to the survival of these sharks.

Why has the Government taken this retrograde step?  It is the result of an election promise made because of extensive lobbying of National Party candidates by fishers upset because they have been prevented from accessing this area for recreational fishing.

During the election campaign the new Government had pledged to undertake a statewide scientific review of marine conservation and here we have the Minister acting in a way which pre-empts  the findings of that review.  It is to be hoped that this is not an indication of the way in which the new state government plans to treat the environment.

For more information on the Grey Nurse Shark see the Fact Sheet “Australian Threatened Species: Grey Nurse Shark” at