At the end of science week, the Australian Greens have announced a new initiative to identify the threats facing Australia's shark population.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on marine and fisheries said today that more research was needed on sharks, and that this research and monitoring would play an important role in increasing public safety.
"By better understanding our shark population and changes in their behaviour patterns, we will be better equipped to ensure people can continue to enjoy our beautiful beaches with the utmost safety," Senator Siewert said today.
"We don't know enough about sharks. Many of our shark species are vulnerable and endangered, and our understanding of them is very limited.
"Our initiative, Living With Sharks - Investing in Research, will supplement existing shark research and monitoring by providing an extra $6 million over 3 years for research into changes in the population and behaviour of shark species listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The results will be publicly available and used to inform policy decision-making.
"An initial investment in research funding allowed Western Australia to create a network of transmitters far more advanced than any other set-up in the world. This has made Australia world leaders in shark research, but the WA program will not deliver results without further investment in both shark tagging and in maintaining the transmitter network.
"This is the only way that we can understand the changes in their populations and behaviour and the effects of climate change and human activity.
"Almost half the world's shark species live in Australian waters. Nine of these are listed as threatened, including the magnificent Whale Shark. Shark populations are slow to reproduce and have few live young, making them very susceptible to overfishing, by catch, finning, hunting, shark nets, habitat degradation and culls. Climate change is a new pressure however we have very little understanding about how this is affecting our sharks.
"Changes in shark behaviour have been linked to warming oceans, but the reality is that there is still insufficient information for us to draw any conclusions about their behaviour.
"The Greens plan can deliver strong outcomes for public safety and the environment alike," Senator Siewert concluded.
LIVING WITH SHARKS - INVESTING IN RESEARCH
The Greens' plan for shark research and monitoring will provide an extra $6 million over 3 years for:
- scientific studies of the population and behaviour of shark species listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
- tagging programs through CSIRO;
- the satellite monitoring equipment that is required to run a comprehensive study into our sharks.
The results will be publicly available and used to inform policy decision-making.