WWF to buy $100k shark fishing licence

By AG Staff Writer 14 July 2016
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Conservation group WWF-Australia is raising $100,000 to buy – and retire – a Great Barrier Reef shark fishing licence.

IN WHAT IT’S calling “a new approach to conservation”, WWF-Australia is planning to buy a shark fishing licence on the Great Barrier Reef that entitles operators to target sharks and grey mackerel on nets up to 1.2km long.

“We’re seeking donations to buy and retire a shark fishing licence,” said Gilly Llewellyn, WWF-Australia conservation director. 

“This will save at least 10,000 sharks each year, prevent dugongs, turtles and dolphins being killed as bycatch, and help the reef heal after the worst coral bleaching in its history,” she said.

The licence also allows operators to line fish for other species, and has in fact only been used for this purpose since 2004 – prompting some to question the effectiveness of the move. However according to WWF, between 1993 and 2004 the licence was used to catch more than 500,000kg of shark, which equates to an average of about 10,000 sharks per year.

“Someone could buy it tomorrow and go fishing with it in a couple of months’ time and it could be catching sharks again,” Gilly told the ABC.

The Federal Government is currently assessing whether some species of hammerhead sharks should be listed as threatened.