Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GBR Sharks - going going...

White Tip Reef Shark - common in the SRMR, ever rarer in the GBR

The Far North's reef shark populations are dropping at an alarming rate and a marine biologist says the decline of the apex predators could pose a serious risk to the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef.
Research has found that reef shark populations are decreasing by up to 17 per cent each year, Dr Ashley Frisch, of James Cook University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, says.

This is really nothing new.
Literally everybody I know who has been diving the GBR tells me that the Reef Sharks are all but gone. As a reminder, here's a recent open source paper I mentioned last October stating basically the same.
One very knowledgeable researcher tells me that the decline is not so much the result of any targeted fishing for Sharks but apparently, the consequence of fishermen first killing the Sharks in order not to lose their catch when they subsequently fish for teleost Fishes.
That is certainly plausible - I've seen it with my own eyes off the Big Island where the game fishermen would throw in baited drums to get rid of the OWTs before targeting the FADs.

Anyway, are there gonna be any repercussions?
If the deafening silence in NSW after the completion of the public consultation is any indication, the answer is probably not. Looks like the politicians and park authorities will need alot more prodding before we will see any improvements.

To those of you who care, may I once again recommend the blog of Madi Pip.

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