Shark fishing industry has a bite taken out

COFFS Coast shark fishermen have been ordered back to shore, with the State government declaring a ban on the practice until July.

For Coffs Harbour shark fisher Darren Ward the ban is a massive blow just six weeks into the season.

“You don't start catching them until the warmer weather and already the quota's full,” he said.

“They catch hundreds, thousands of tonnes of shark elsewhere but in NSW no research has been done, yet we have the toughest ban of all.”

Shadow Minister for Industry Duncan Gay has thrown a line in with the shark fishers, slamming the ban. “The quota is 160 tonne of sharks to be caught per year, however 100 tonne of that quota is made up of sandbar sharks, which are not regularly caught south of Coffs Harbour,” Mr Gay said.

“This leaves a quota of just 60 tonne of sharks between Coffs Harbour and the Victorian border, when by comparison, Queensland shark hunters catch up to 3000 tonne a year.”

Mr Gay said shark fishermen have been telling the State government that shark numbers are in plague proportions but they are being ignored.

“The State government should lift the quota and seriously look at extending air patrols and urgently look at shark nets at swimming beaches,” he said.

“These measures will both support the fishing industry and contribute to safer beaches.”

Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, Ian Macdonald, has refused to lift the ban on shark fishing quotas, saying the quota is 'set scientifically'.

“The government will not review shark fishing quotas unless the science directs us to do so,” Mr Macdonald said.

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