Far from any perceived increase in shark numbers, there is an alarming decline in the number of sharks worldwide, including several species of Hammerhead sharks being listed as threatened on the recent World Conservation Union’s Red List, according to the State’s peak environment group.
“The recent spotting of a Hammerhead shark off Sydney’s beaches does not mean there are more sharks overall - they are just more visible during Summer,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said today.
“The vast majority of shark species do not harm humans. There hasn’t been a shark attack at Bondi Beach since 1929. Even the hammerheads seen recently off Sydney’s beaches pose little risk to swimmers, humans just aren’t part of their natural diet.
“The warm water from the East Australian Current extends down the coast at this time of year and brings with it tropical and sub-tropical species, including sharks. Warmer temperatures also entice more swimmers to our beaches, meaning sharks are likely to be spotted.
“Shark populations have declined by 90 per cent worldwide and several species are now at very high risk of extinction. Yet these sharks are still killed for their fins in huge numbers off Australia’s east coast.
“Sharks are a keystone species essential in maintaining the balance of healthy marine ecosystems. These marine icons are extremely vulnerable to the effects of fishing as they are slow growing, late to mature and produce few young,” Ms Faehrmann said.
“Hunting for sharks is more like hunting whales or dolphins than fish. We pushed whales to the brink of extinction and we’re in the process of doing the same thing to sharks,” said Ben Birt, marine campaigner of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“This majestic marine species is under immediate threat as a result of the expanded shark fishery in NSW. This fishery exists purely because of the lucrative overseas markets for shark fin soup,” he said.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Save Our Last Sharks campaign is calling for an end to fishing for these endangered animals in NSW waters until research can show whether fishing them is sustainable.
“Sharks need our help now and we cannot let our fear push them to the brink of extinction,” Mr Birt said.