- Almost two-thirds of reef sharks and rays are threatened with extinction
- Queensland Govt must remove gillnets from Great Barrier Reef waters
- Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek must fully protect the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark from fishing.
The Australian and Queensland governments must do more to save sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Humane Society International said after a new study revealed two-thirds of the world’s reef sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.
The study found almost two-thirds of sharks and rays living on the world’s coral reefs at risk, with 14 of 134 species reviewed Critically Endangered, including the scalloped hammerhead. The study, published in Nature Communications, found that overfishing is the main cause of elevated extinction risk, compounded by climate change and habitat degradation.
Professor Colin Simpfendorfer, one of the study’s main authors from Australia’s James Cook University, told the Guardian: “This is not just a few species; this is a broad extinction crisis.”
Australian Marine Conservation Society shark scientist and conservation lead Dr Leonardo Guida said: “This research is yet another wake-up call for the Australian and Queensland governments to do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef. When you are allowed to fish for endangered scalloped hammerheads in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, you know you’ve got problems in your own backyard.
“Sharks are critical to the health of the oceans and reefs. They keep the ecosystem balanced and without them food webs can become unstable and possibly collapse.
“Just last year the World Heritage Committtee’s scientific advisers, UNESCO and the IUCN, recommended that gillnets be removed from Reef waters. The Queensland Government must immediately remove gillnets from the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.”
Humane Society International marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said: “While this study covers a broad range of sharks and rays, the scalloped hammerhead is particularly under serious threat considering it is still fished in great numbers in our Great Barrier Reef. Despite unequivocal evidence of its decline, it is still being assessed by the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek for its listing as ‘Endangered’ under Australia’s national environmental laws. It is far past time to give this seriously threatened animal the protections it needs to continue to survive.”