For those of you that cant make it to ODEX (and for those of you that are going) the following letter is concerning a topic very close to Madis heart. Please have a read and submit it to the government to let them know your feelings about the Australian East Coast Inshore Fin Fisheries (ECIFF). If you havent heard about the ECIFF before, you can find all of the information under the ECIFF tab on this website. Its a really important issue that needs to be addressed so please take the time to sign and submit and if you have any questions im sure that Madi would be happy to discuss it with you. Many thanks.
WHERE TO SEND YOU’RE YOUR LETTER ABOUT THE ECIFF REQUESTING BETTER PROTECTION FOR SHARKS IN THE GREAT BARRIER REEF:
The Director Sustainable Fisheries Section Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities GPO Box 787 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Public comments will be received between 12 September 2011 and 21 October 2011.
Any comments received will form part of the documentation provided to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for a decision. Copies of comments may be made available to other persons with a particular interest in the application. If you wish to claim confidentiality for any part of your comments, would you please discuss the matter with the Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Section (02) 6274 1917.
For more info and documents on the ECIFF, visit…
A letter you can use: I urge you to make it personal, if you are not within Australia, mention your tourism decisions being affected by the fishery and removal of sharks… can also add and take information at your will form other pages of this website to the letter if you choose to use it…
Madison Stewart ‘pip’
(your personal message)
I am concerned about the fate of sharks in the GBRMP since 2009 when the former minister Peter garret approved the Queensland East Coast Inshore Finfish Fishery (ECIFF). According to this quota, each year, 600 tonnes of shark from inside the marine park are caught and killed for use as food in Australia as well as to supply export markets for shark fins. Despite significant weaknesses in the fishery it was approved, and despite the lack of scientific research on shark populations in the area a number of species are being fished. I want the ECIFF to stop target shark fishing inside the GBR Marine Park and World Heritage Area immediately.
JCU researchers warn: “More than 20 shark species are caught in this fishery, but we know virtually nothing about their natural abundances, birth rates, death rates, or movement patterns,” explains Dr William Robbins. “This is the kind of information needed to determine what levels of fishing are sustainable, and to set regulations that minimize the risks to the most vulnerable species.” All evidence of what we know already points against the fishery, and we risk threatening species we know almost nothing about.
Sharks which keep to specific reef territories – gone.
Young Sharks from inshore nurseries on reefs – gone.
Migratory sharks traveling through these reefs – picked off one by one.
Congregation of same sex sharks like the gender flocking of hammerheads risks entire populations of females being wiped out.
Recorded commercial shark catch in this fishery plummeted between 2003 and 2006. In this period there was only a slight decrease in fishing effort, indicating that reduced catches resulted from a reduction in the availability of target shark species. More recently, independent research at James Cook University has been undertaken on the biology, abundance and status of the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus). This work suggests that Great Barrier Reef populations of grey reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks are declining, down by as much as 97%.
Sharks play a key role as the oceans top predators, maintaining the vitality of ecosystems and forming the structure of all species below them. Compared to teleost Fishes, Sharks are slow growing, mature late and have relatively few offspring, meaning that they are highly susceptible to exploitation in fisheries and depleted stocks take a long time to recover- if at all.
75 per cent of 20 species of sharks and rays from observers reports of catch with data known were found to be particularly vulnerable to even small levels of fishing mortality. The ECIFF focuses on the gauntlet approach to fish sharks, this is said to be a sustainable way of catching sharks, it operates on a size limit, 1.5 meters maximum for target catch of sharks. The approach is only plausible if there is significant information on the biology and status of the species. The majority of sharks taken in this fishery, especially within the GBR marine park, lack exactly this information. And the bycatch of larger sharks occurs frequently.
The ECIFF interacts with several threatened species, two of which are protected and require special management, two listed as critically endangered. More than 60 species make up the bycatch, 52 of those species both target and bycatch are identified, of them…
7 are classed “data deficient”
18 “Near threatened”
8 “critically endangered”
(from the IUCN red list of endangered species) One species THE ECIFF interacted with was too new to even have a status. The scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) was the second highest catch recorded and observed, it is listed as endangered, and identified as having a high sustainability risk.
Clearly the impact of the fishery over the past two years alone has been so dramatic that operators who make a living through the reef such as live aboard diving vessels (estimated that up to 25% or $1,375 of each visitor’s expenditure was directly attributable to the opportunity to see sharks) have protected the reefs they visit from fishing through agreements with then fishermen. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have themselves suggested that there should not be a shark fishery on the Great Barrier Reef at all because it can not be clearly demonstrated that it is selective and sustainable.
We must invoke the Precautionary Principle and stop the decimation of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef. . On the 28th of September 2011, academics from James Cook University in Queensland said Sharks inhabiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef are in decline due to over fishing. We risk loosing not just species, but also an entire ecosystem. Our contribution to the shark fin trade and un-scientifically backed fishing of sharks from within the Great Barrier Reef is affecting our reputation, especially with so many less developed nations creating shark sanctuaries in their waters.
When the review of this legislation is done in Feb 2012 I urge you to call an immediate halt and revoke its approval. We do not know enough about these different species but what little we do know suggests that most cannot survive limited fishing let along the massive extraction which they are experiencing now. If anything we should be protecting unstudied species, not fishing them or setting un-backed quotas. If in the future there will be proof that harvesting specific quotas of specific Sharks in specific waters is fully sustainable, then we will accept that those quotas be extracted, until then… stop the legal targeting of sharks within the Great Barrier Reef.
(your name, occupation ect.)