27 Jun 2016

Poor monitoring of fishing vessels aids shark extinction

8:55 am on 27 June 2016

The manager of a regional shark conservation programme says not being able to monitor vessels offshore is the biggest barrier in protecting threatened sharks and rays.

Reef sharks.

Photo: Don Silcock / Cultura Creative

Ian Campbell of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Shark and Ray initiative said it's difficult for Pacific countries whose fisheries departments are already under capacity, to monitor what's happening on board offshore vessels.

Palau has just joined Fiji, Samoa and French Polynesia in backing the WWF's Pacific Shark Heritage Programme.

Mr Campbell said sharks have significant links to Pacific culture and heritage.

He said a quarter of the sharks and rays species in the region were predicted to become extinct in this generation.

"Even though fishing vessels can go out and they target species like Tuna, you can set your fishing so that you do catch sharks," he said.

"So you can fish for certain species even though you can say you're not for fishing for them. So yeah, not many countries do specifically target them. But a lot of sharks, especially in the pacific are caught."