Jon Ford

Jon Ford

Minister for Employment Protection; Regional Development; Fisheries; the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne

    Northern fisheries closure protects sharks from finning

    1/06/2005 12:00 AM

    Fisheries Minister Jon Ford has approved new measures to protect shark stocks in waters off the Pilbara and Kimberley.

    Mr Ford said the package would address scientific concern over the impact of commercial fishing on the sustainability of sandbar sharks.

    “The fishery will be closed for up to 20 years between North West Cape and Broome to allow the species to recover,” he said.

    “This represents up to 80 per cent of the North Coast Shark Fishery and combined with existing shark closures means a vast part of the State’s northern waters will be off limits.”

    In the past decade, commercial operators in the fishery have increasingly targeted the sandbar species to supply valuable shark fin markets in South East Asia.

    The Minister said the rapid increase in the catch was of concern to Fisheries Department scientists, who launched a major research project to study the biology of this stock and assess its status.

    Sand bar sharks are slow-growing and do not reach sexual maturity until about 15 years of age. Their low reproductive rate also means they may only breed every two years, making them vulnerable to over-exploitation.

    The catch of sandbar sharks is expected to fall from more than 400 tonnes in 2003-04 to about 40 tonnes when the closure takes effect.

    Other species that would benefit from the closure include hammerhead, pigeye and lemon sharks.

    “These measures build on the Gallop Government’s strong stance which prohibits shark fins being landed unless accompanied by the shark carcasses.”

    The shark fishing industry worked closely with authorities to develop the new package.

    Commercial fishing boats will be required to have satellite-based vessel monitoring systems to track their movements and an observer program will be introduced to monitor fishing activity.

    Minister's office: 9425 4200