Government paper reveals overwhelming support for protecting the grey nurse shark


The O'Farrell Government has been embarrassed after submissions to its discussion paper on the Grey Nurse Shark overwhelmingly argued against its own policy to wind back protections on the mid north coast.

"The O'Farrell Government needs to immediately reinstate protections on the State's mid north coast for the Grey Nurse Shark, which were rescinded by the Coalition within weeks of coming to power," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"Submissions to a review into protecting the critically endangered species closed last August, but the O'Farrell Government took five months to release the findings.*

"The reason they kept this information hidden for so long is clearly because it reveals the overwhelming extent of public support for protecting the Grey Nurse Shark, a creature so gentle it is known as the Labrador of the ocean.

"This is the second time in only a few weeks a review commissioned by the O'Farrell Government has told it exactly what they didn’t want to hear.

"The marine park audit has already confirmed the Coalition is wrong on protecting our fragile marine environments and now this paper has confirmed the case for reinstating Grey Nurse Shark protections in NSW."

The most commonly raised comments in the discussion paper revealed:

  • The Grey Nurse Shark population is depleted and requires increased protection;
  • People had observed Grey Nurse Sharks with fishing related injuries;
  • There is a need for increased protection at Fish Rock and Green Island; and
  • Closures revoked in April 2011 should be reinstated.

"As the Minister who put in place the additional protections at Fish Rock, I know the scientific assessment showed a need for further protection of these areas," Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan said.

"These restrictions on the types of tackle that were allowed to be used on the mid north coast still allowed recreational fishing and were accompanied by measures to improve recreational fishing in the surrounding areas.

"Labor's measures recognised the benefits recreational fishing brings. In fact, they actually enhanced recreational fishing, while also introducing vital protection of the Grey Nurse Shark habitat.

"The O'Farrell Government's war on the endangered Grey Nurse Shark needs to stop now before it is too late. Despite its own research telling it to do so, the O'Farrell Government has refused to take any action to protect the Grey Nurse Shark."