Shark fishing needs more research

SHARK fishing in our coastal waters should be banned until research catches up with practice, according to an environmental group.

Nature Conservation Council marine conservation officer, Ben Birt, said the Government should discontinue current policies and ban shark fishing until research shows the industry can be sustainable.

“Unsustainable numbers of sharks, including vulnerable and threatened species, are still being caught and their fins exported to overseas markets,” Mr Birt said.

“The New South Wales catch of whaler sharks alone has increased from 165 to 440 tonnes in the past year due to the international demand for shark fin.”

Coffs Harbour shark fishermen, whose main prey is the sandbar shark, are working hard to make the industry sustainable.

Darren Ward has travelled to shark fisheries in Vietnam in the past to expand his education of the industry.

“I've taken researchers, marine biologists and observers out with me, we're working to make a viable, sustainable industry,” he said.

“We're not out there to wipe out sharks.”

But despite the efforts of individual fishers, the NCC's Mr Birt said immediate action by the Government should be taken to reduce the risk to the species.

“The Federal Government has the opportunity to take the lead and stop the overfishing of these iconic marine species,” he said.

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