Video footage circulating across social media showing a fisherman posing with an endangered juvenile shark on the Northern Beaches last week will not lead to penalties. This is because the footage shows nothing illegal, Department of Primary Industries has informed Manly Observer.
The footage was sent to us and reposted throughout social media, but primarily on Instagram last week. It showed a man posing with the juvenile Grey Nurse shark before hesitantly dragging it back into shallow waters. The footage incensed many in the marine ecology and diving communities with a number of people saying they would be reporting the matter to authorities.
We asked DPI to have their enforcement team review the footage and advise what laws had been broken and, if any, what penalties would apply. The following response was received from a DPI spokesman several days later:
“NSW Department of Primary Industries has reviewed the video of a grey nurse shark captured by a fisher at Long Reef, Fisherman’s Beach, and determined that the grey nurse shark was captured accidentally and released as soon as possible.”
The following guidelines apply to accidental catches of a Grey nurse shark are the following:
- It must be released carefully causing the least possible harm
- Bring the shark in as quickly as possible to minimise stress
- Avoid lifting it out of the water as this can cause internal damage.
- Cut the line as close to the hooked area as possible, remembering that your safety is paramount.
- Under no circumstances should you gaff, or tail rope the shark.
The DPI website lists Grey Nurse Sharks as a critically endangered species facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future as determined by the Fisheries Scientific Committee.
A species is eligible for listing as critically endangered if it has undergone an extremely large reduction in abundance, geographic distribution or genetic diversity and is affected by a threatening process.
Fishers and divers can report sightings or interactions to NSW DPI by calling 4916 3877or online: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries
Follow the link to the Threatened Species Sighting Form.
This link is also a handy one to save: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/compliance/report-illegal-activity