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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment


17 December 1997

Australia's declining populations of the Great White Shark and Grey Nurse Shark are now protected in Commonwealth waters.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the Howard Government has taken action to ensure the survival of both shark species by listing them as 'vulnerable' under the Endangered Species Protection Act.

Senator Hill says a raft of scientific evidence and advice from the Endangered Species Scientific Subcommittee has convinced the government of the need to act now to save both species from possible extinction.

"Australia's populations of the Grey Nurse Shark have declined by more than 20 percent in the past 30 years alone, and there are estimated to be less than 10 000 mature Great White Sharks remaining.

"Close to 500 Great Whites die in our oceans each year as a result of human activity, particularly commercial fishing.

"This decision by the Howard Government complements the protection already given to these sharks in some State waters.

"The move means taking or killing either shark species is no longer permitted in Commonwealth waters, which includes the huge Australian fishing zone and waters above the continental shelf.

"Australians must cast aside their negative perceptions of sharks - shark attacks cause fewer fatalities in Australia than bee stings or lightning strikes.

"We must realise that these giants of our oceans, which play a vital role in our marine ecosystems, are in danger of disappearing forever.

"The government will work with the fishing industry and other stakeholders to develop national recovery plans for both shark species, to help their populations recover.

"During the 1998 International Year of the Ocean, I hope to raise public awareness of the decline in shark numbers and the importance of these species to Australia's oceans."

These changes to Schedule 1 of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 take effect immediately. Anyone wishing to capture a Great White Shark or Grey Nurse Shark in Commonwealth waters for scientific purposes must apply for a permit.

Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 0419 693 515 or 02 6277 7640
Bruce Male (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0281
December 17, 1997

Commonwealth of Australia