Australia moves to protect whales, dophins and whale sharks | Pacific Beat

Australia moves to protect whales, dophins and whale sharks

Australia moves to protect whales, dophins and whale sharks

Updated 29 March 2012, 12:11 AEDT

The Australian government has put forward a proposal to reduce the numbers of whales, dolphins and whale sharks dying in tuna fishing nets in the Pacific.

Figures prepared by Canberra estimate over 1000 whales and dolphins, as well as 56 whale sharks, died in 2009 as a result of tuna fishing in the region.

That puts the whale kill on a par with that by the Japanese fleet in Antarctica.

The proposal is before a meeting of the Central and Western Pacific Fisheries Commission that is taking place in Guam.

Delegates from all the major fishing nations, including China, Japan and the European Union, as well as the Pacific Island countries, must vote on the proposal before the end of the week.

The United States delegation leader, Russell Smith says Washington is backing the proposal and has put forward its own measure to save white tip sharks.

Presenter: Pacific Economic and Business reporter, Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Russell Smith, United States delegation leader at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Guam


SMITH: We have indicated that we will support the measures that were tabled by Australia on not setting whale sharks cetaceans targets, and that would require the adoption of safe handling and release guidelines for whale sharks, cetaceans that are incidentally set upon. We've actually provided some supplemental material on how the safe handling and release of cetaceans and whale sharks should occur. With respect to oceanic white tips we have tabled a proposed that will ban retention of any oceanic white tip sharks caught in association with WCPSC, it's a measure that's modelled on a similar measure in the inter-American tropical tuna commission and there are like measures in some of the other …
GARRETT: What reaction have you had to those shark measures from the fishing nations?
SMITH: For the most part the reactions have been positive, I think that with respect to whale sharks in particular there's a general recognition that this is a species that's very much in trouble and much help is needed in addressing the mortality that's being incidentally caused by fishing. There are some countries that want additional information, are going to need some additional persuasion, but we are working on that, we hope to achieve that this round.
GARRETT: How difficult will it be to get the measures on white tip sharks through the meeting?
SMITH: I'm hopeful that we'll be able to do it.
GARRETT: There are a lot of environment groups there working on this issue, is that making a difference?
SMITH: Yes I think it does help to have other voices talking about the issue and highlighting the science and helping spread the information on why this is an important issue for us to address.
GARRETT; Just how critical is the situation for those sharks?
SMITH: I'd say it's very critical. I'm not going to be able to for you put a specific measure on the criticality, but I think the global community has recognised that trying to address this issue is a significant priority.


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