Win for fishers but sharks miss out
By RACHEL AFFLICK firstname.lastname@example.org BYRON BAY fisherman Ken Thurlow has welcomed a court decision not to impose more restrictions on recreational fishing around Julian Rocks because of the grey nurse shark.
But environmentalists say the decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has put the grey nurse shark population in jeopardy.
The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales has been pushing for the creation of sanctuaries that would ban all fishing around a group of key grey nurse habitats and recently took its campaign to the courts.
Marine conservation officer for the Nature Conservation Council, Giselle Firme, said they lost on a technicality.
"The judge basically said although grey nurse sharks were susceptible to being killed by fishing, they had no jurisdiction to make any decision," Ms Firme said. "It's very disappointing. The courts admit the sharks are in grave danger but they do nothing about it."
Ms Firme said fewer than 500 grey nurse sharks remained off the east coast of Australia and unless significant action was taken to protect them, they would become extinct within years.
But ECOfishers CEO, Ken Thurlow, of Byron Bay, said the decision was a timely Christmas present for local fishers.
"The existing fishing exclusion zones are more than adequate for the grey nurse," he said.
"Sharks utilise 100 per cent of our oceans. Offshore family fishers have only 0.01 per cent of the Government's political park and for only four months of the year."