29 November 2005

Australia: Shark fishing under scrutiny

Northern Territory scientists are about to start a three-year study into the sustainability of shark fishing in Australia's northern waters.

The Australian Research Council and the fishing industry are jointly funding the project that will see thousands of sharks tagged and tracked.

Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science says the project will determine whether commercial operators are overfishing or whether the shark population could sustain a higher harvest.

Dr Meekan says the study will also try to estimate the size of the illegal shark catch by using genetic profiling.

"When a customs boat comes along and arrests an illegal fisherman, we'll get the fins off those boats," he said.

"Now we'll be able to look through those sharks and try and make a match with the fingerprint, the genetic fingerprint of the sharks we've already tagged.

"If we can do that we'll actually be able to estimate on a real-time basis, just how many sharks those illegal fishermen are taking out of the stock."

Source: www.abc.net.au/news


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