Last November, we celebrated the announcement of an unprecedented number of shark and ray species (21 species) being awarded protection under the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS).
However, in a surprise move, the Australian Government has chosen to take out a reservation against the listings of all three species of thresher sharks and two hammerhead sharks, which were all provided with crucial international protection at the November CMS meeting. This means that Australia is refusing to take action for these species in Australian waters, and they will not be bound by the CMS protections that they actually supported at last year's meeting. While Australia has been a long-term and strong conservation player at the CMS, it has never before taken a reservation against a globally agreed conservation measure by the treaty.
Australia has essentially signalled to the world that they do not need to take any further conservation measures to protect thresher and hammerhead sharks in domestic waters, but they expect the international community to take action! This is a significant backwards step from a country that once led the way in international shark conservation.
Australia's reasoning is that their domestic laws already provide equal protection to the CMS listing, and therefore no further action is required. However, the decline in catch of Scalloped hammerhead sharks in Australian waters, by more than 70% in the past ten years, clearly indicates they need greater protection. This is also supported by the IUCN RedList, which suggests that hammerhead sharks are under pressure from illegal and unreported fishing in Australian waters. Australia's actions can therefore only be viewed as a political decision designed to appease fishing groups.
ACTION REQUIRED: Please follow the link below to add your name to a letter template (set up by Humane Society International), which will be sent to Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP. This will let him know that you do not support Australia's move to pull out from CMS protections for three thresher shark species and two hammerhead species. Ask the Minister to reverse his decision and to immediately withdraw the reservation so that Australia's reputation can be salvaged, before it is too late.
Thank you to Humane Society International for leading this call to action. For more information about HSI campaigns go to www.hsi.org.au
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