An assessment by the world's leading authority on threatened species has shown two sharks unique to Australia have moved
closer to extinction - a trend the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Humane Society International (HSI) say needs to be tackled with urgent bans on fishing the species.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says the greeneye spurdog is now "Endangered” and the
whitefin swellshark is now "Critically Endangered” when both had previously been categorised as "Near Threatened”. Both
are only found in southern Australian waters. The major cause of these declines is commercial fishing.
The assessment by the IUCN
included 41 Australian sharks and rays with some six species that swim in Australian waters having their global threat
Dr Leonardo Guida, AMCS Senior Shark Campaigner, said: "Sharks have been in our oceans for around 450 million years and have withstood five of the earth's extinction events -
they deserve our respect and care.
"We know relatively little about our unique deepwater sharks like the greeneye spurdog and whitefin swellshark - there's
a real risk we could lose them before we even get a chance to know them. For example, there are no rules at all relating
to whitefin swellshark - either in how they're fished or protected.
"This crucial work by scientists at IUCN is a clear signal that we are not doing enough to protect our sharks and rays.”
Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner at HSI, said: "We have the capacity and the resources to do more for our sharks in Australia. We learnt a few weeks ago in the
government's Shark Report Card that several species in Australian waters are recovering because of changes to the way we
Later this week, HSI will submit scientific nominations to the Federal government for the protection of whitefin swellshark and other lesser
known species including the critically endangered longnose skate, the endangered grey skate, and the endangered narrow
sawfish. If approved these listings will secure federal protection for the species and require their recovery.
Chlebeck added: "The worsening conservation status of the whitefin swellshark to Critically Endangered is a perfect example of the
threat to Australia's shark and ray biodiversity. A beautiful, bottom-dwelling species is being fished out of existence
before most of us even knew its name. We need to identify and protect lesser known species under threat such as the
whitefin swellshark, and the greeneye spurdog before it's too late.”
Dr Guida added: "We are calling on the Australian government to take urgent action and stop any fishing for these endangered species,
and ban fishing in critical areas.”
In early March, AMCS and HSI together launched its Shark Champions campaign to build an army of advocates for the welfare and conservation of sharks and rays across Australia. For more
information visit sharkchampions.org.au