Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New South Wales - Action, please!

Upset about the pic?
Here are several more!

From the website of the Game Fishing Association Australia, no less!

All line fishing methods that use hooks have the potential to harm grey nurse sharks.
Grey nurse sharks will take baited hooks and can also become hooked if they take a fish being played on line fishing gear regardless of whether bait or artificial lures have been used. However, the use of wire trace for bottom fishing and setlines has been identified as the most harmful fishing method to grey nurse sharks. Many sharks can be seen with fishing gear, such as hooks, caught in their jaws and line trailing from their mouth and gills. Autopsies of grey nurse sharks have found that hooks can become embedded in the throat and stomach, and can puncture the shark’s large liver. This can lead to bacterial infection, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and ultimately death.

From the paper.

Grey nurse sharks clearly interact with static baits deployed close to their aggregations.
All bait types were taken at all times of day, and grey nurse sharks were the only bait-takers after dusk. Even the least taken bait types resulted in frequent (10%) shark interactions, demonstrating that bottom-set baits pose a high interaction risk when deployed around grey nurse shark aggregations.

From the website of the NSW Government (!).

Areas that are known to be used for feeding and breeding are considered important for the survival of a threatened species. Some of these areas may be declared as critical habitat, such as the grey nurse shark areas along the NSW coast.

Hook and line fishing in areas important for survival has negative impacts on many threatened native species including Grey nurse shark (endangered).

Hook and line fishing can impact upon threatened species by causing damage to the mouth of fishes, which may impact on feeding behaviour and feeding success. The effects of fish hooks can be more serious over a longer time if retained in the mouth, throat and stomach of fishes and sharks, and ultimately can lead to death. Even though it is illegal to take a threatened species, these species are still being harmed by hook and line fishing, as evidenced by grey nurse sharks and black cod seen with hooks in their mouths.

While listing all hook and line fishing throughout NSW waters as a KTP is impractical and unwarranted, particular sites, such as known aggregation sites, spawning areas, important juvenile habitats and feeding areas, are of critical importance for the survival of threatened species. Some of these areas, but not all, are listed as critical habitat areas under NSW Fisheries legislation.
Any activity that could kill or adversely affect threatened fish species in these critical areas should be considered a threatening process and managed accordingly.

The new Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson could not care less.
In clear contravention of the precautionary principle and pending some re-assessment, or whatever, she is revoking the new fishing ban around Fish Rock and Green Island. I've blogged about it here, and here are more details on the Grey Nurse Blog.

Here is Ms Hodgkinson's e-mail along with that of her boss the PM.
If you live in NSW and are thus a member of their constituency, you may want to write and tell them what you think about this utter fiasco, or you can also sign up to this campaign by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

I know too little about Ozzie politics to give any advice to people from outside of NSW or Australia.
Best drop a line to Peter Hitchins and staff of the Southwest Rock Dive Center, or contact the FishRock Dive Center and ask them about the best way to proceed.

Vinaka Vakalevu!

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