New South Wales Australia is heading an effort to save two species of hammerhead shark from extinction.
The NSW government has passed legislation to protect the great and scalloped hammerhead sharks in NSW waters, two species whose numbers are being endangered by local fishing and an appetite for shark fin soup.
An ammendment to the Fisheries Management Act 1994 lists the great hammerhead shark as vulnerable and the scalloped hammerhead shark as endangered under the act.
“The listing of these two species is a big leap forward in the conservation of these sharks in NSW waters,” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “These listings will ban the sale and possession of these threatened species and help to provide a safe haven for them in NSW waters.”
Great and scalloped hammerhead sharks are caught in the NSW Ocean Trap and Line Fishery, targeted by recreational fishers as well as being caught in the shark nets off NSW beaches. HSI has consistently called for the removal of bather protection nets off NSW beaches due to the impacts they have on protected species such as the grey nurse shark and hammerhead shark.
“Hammerhead sharks are targeted worldwide for their fins which are of high value. Efforts are underway globally to better conserve our shark species and this is a great first step taken by NSW to protect these sharks,” continued Ms Wellbelove. “We call on the Federal Government and other States to also consider listing these species to ensure they can be afforded the full protection they deserve, and now have in NSW, whilst in all Australian waters.”
Data from NSW, Queensland and international waters suggests that hammerhead sharks have declined by between 75% and more than 90% in less than two generations, representing a very high risk of extinction in the near future.
Notes: The final determinations of the Fisheries Scientific Committee for the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran, and scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, are available at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/fsc/final
Photo courtesy of Terry Goss, Marine Photobank 2008