02 November 2005

Australia: Four-wheel-drives and surfboards banned from shark fishing

The NSW Government has banned the use of four-wheel-drives and surfboards to land great white sharks from the beach.

The ban was announced after a group of men were caught on film landing sharks from seats mounted on four-wheel-drives.

They had earlier paddled offshore on surfboards to drop salmon baits in deeper water.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said the ban was immediate, and applied to areas between the Stockton and Hawks Nest beaches in the Newcastle region, north of Sydney.

It prohibits the use of heavy fishing equipment, fishing lines with a wire trace, and baits weighing more than 200 grams.

The minister said the ban was in response to the actions of the fishermen, who were tagging and releasing juvenile sharks in the area using off-road vehicles and surfboards.

"Several fishers have been catching and releasing juvenile great white sharks by using a surfboard to swim salmon baits out to sharks, and then landing them from a chair mounted on a vehicle," Mr Macdonald said.

Legitimate operations of other commercial and recreational fishers would not be affected, he said.

"Actively attracting great white sharks to beaches is highly dangerous for the fishers and other users of the beach," Mr Macdonald said.

"This type of activity is also potentially harmful to the sharks, which are a protected species and should not be targeted by anglers."

The ban is in place from the shoreline between the northern breakwater of the Hunter River at Stockton to the Big Gibber, north of Hawks Nest, and extends 500 metres out to sea.

Any breach of the ban could result in a $22,000 fine, six months in jail, or both.

Source: www.smh.com.au


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