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Greens launch initiative to end cruel shark finning

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 30 Aug 2013

The Australian Greens have today launched a new initiative to help end the cruel practice of shark finning in Australian waters and internationally.

"Despite being illegal in Australia, sharks are still being caught and having their fins removed before being dumped into the ocean to slowly die. This is a barbaric practice that Australians would be shocked by," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.

"Currently there is a system of patchwork laws between the Commonwealth, State and Territories that undermines efforts to end shark finning, which is driven by the high price of shark fins compared with shark meat, with fins fetching up to 700 times the price.

"Australia has no central source of data on sharks caught, shark fin imports and exports. There are gaping holes in our knowledge that could see substantially more shark fins being traded than is formally caught. This would suggest that illegal fishing and finning is an increasing problem.

"To address this, the Australian Greens would introduce consistent laws, so that all sharks caught in Australia must be landed with their fins still attached to their bodies, along with a ban on the possession, sale and/or trade of imported shark fin in Australia.

"This initiative will see the appointment of a Working Group to determine how to implement these bans, and they will also evaluate the necessity of a moratorium on shark fishing in Commonwealth waters and an export ban, if these other measures prove to be ineffective.

"Not all states and territories require sharks to be landed with fins attached. Some allow fins to be cut off at sea subject to a minimum ratio between fins and meat. This mixture of laws makes it needlessly difficult to monitor compliance with the ban on finning. We would also create a central data source that records Australian sharks caught, species of caught sharks, and full details of shark fin exports.

"Almost half the world's shark species live in Australian waters. Nine of these are listed as threatened under our Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Internationally, a third of all open ocean sharks are endangered.

"These slow-breeding animals are being threatened on a range of fronts, including over-fishing and climate change. Finning is a threat we can control by ensuring the proper laws are in place.

"The Greens are standing up to protect these shark species that are vital for maintaining a strong and healthy marine ecosystem that underpins our nation's sustainable fishing industries.

"We know that Australians do not support cruel and barbaric practices such as finning, and we can be relied upon to deliver strong policies on these issues," Senator Siewert concluded.

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