Fishing 'too unrestricted'

CONSERVATION groups say Australia's environmental legislation is not tough enough and fishing is too unrestricted “to keep threatened whales, dolphins and turtles safe in our waters”.

A new report by WWF and Humane Society International, announced on Tuesday, said Australia's environmental legislation needs “more teeth”.

They have called for a big increase in the protection of what they say are “critical marine habitats for threatened whales, dolphins and turtles”.

They say Australia is home to “six of the world's seven species of marine turtles, 45 of the world's 86 whale, dolphin and porpoise species and more than a quarter of the world's sharks, skates and rays”.

However, while calling for an expanded area of protected ocean zones and putting pressure on the next Federal Government to make marine protection areas a priority, the WWF has denied it is advocating “radical changes,” saying it only wants more legislative teeth for enforcement.

WWF was originally known as the World Wildlife Fund but an official explained at the time of its name change that, while the initials had meaning as a brand, many third world residents rejected its arguments because in their cultures, wild animals were threatening rather than wonderful.

The official explanation now is that, “as the organisation grew in the '70s and into the '80s, WWF began to expand its work to conserve the environment as a whole (reflecting the interdependence of all living things), rather than focusing on selected species in isolation”.

In their report, the two organisations express concern that “only a fraction of critical marine habitats for threatened (species) are protected in Australian waters”.

“A network of sanctuaries to protect threatened whales, dolphins and turtles in Australian waters is a crucial part of the solution, one that can be achieved through the government's existing commitment to establish a national network of Marine Protected Areas,” it states.

Gympie Times

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