Thursday, February 18, 2010

113 governments agree to conserve endangered sharks – Peter Garrett declines on behalf of Australia

Peter Garrett, what a disappointment he’s been as Environment Minister.

Australia Environment Minister Peter Garrett. (AAP: Dean Lewins, file photo)

MANILA, Philippines, February 17, 2010 (ENS) - A landmark agreement to protect shark species threatened with extinction was reached Friday as 113 countries signed up to a United Nations-backed wildlife treaty to conserve migratory sharks.

Government representatives signed the shark protection agreement in Manila at a meeting of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, CMS, a treaty administered by the UN Environment Programme.

They agreed to include seven shark species in the agreement - the great white, basking, whale, porbeagle, spiny dogfish, shortfin and longfin mako sharks.

The sharks are to benefit from better international protection by fishing nations by reduction of illegal fishing and trade through the enforcement of existing laws. …

According to the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 17 percent of world's 1,044 shark species are threatened with extinction. At present, human knowledge of about 47 percent of shark species is too limited to even assess if they are threatened.

UNEP cites studies showing that shark populations collapsed in both in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Mediterranean Sea by 90 percent, and by 75 percent in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean within the past 15 years.

The human appetite for shark fin soup and shark meat has led to the collapse of shark populations.

By signing the agreement, the delegates recognized that sharks are at risk of over-fishing, fisheries by-catch, illegal trade, habitat destruction, depletion of prey species, pollution with a high risk of mercury poisoning, boat strikes and the impact of climate change on the marine environment. ...

Nevertheless, Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett says his government will not adhere to the protection of the porbeagle, longfin mako and shortfin mako species under the CMS treaty, but instead would pass a law to remove these sharks from the country's list of protected species. …

Shark conservationists are worried about Australia's new shark policy.

"Australia is a longstanding signatory of the Convention for Conservation of Migratory Species and has committed to protect listed species with Australian legislation - applying the EPBC act to those species as they migrate through our waters," said Glenn Sant, who serves as Global Marine Programme leader of TRAFFIC and a vice-chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group.

"We are deeply concerned that the Australian Government has decided not to offer these species any increased protection despite the fact that they have been internationally listed under the CMS and recognized as globally Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List." …

113 Governments Agree to Conserve Endangered Sharks

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