Seafood Industry Australia CEO Jane Lovell has refuted claims that the Hawksbill Turtle is under threat from commercial fishing operations in the Coral Sea.
“The fact the WWF has just discovered this turtle passes through areas that have been fished for decades does not mean the turtle is under threat,” she said.
“What it does show is that the Hawksbill Turtle and commercial fishing activities have co-existed for many years.
“It is also worth noting that while this tracking study was underway so was commercial fishing; and there were no interactions between turtles and fishers.
“This feels like another attempt to misrepresent the facts and drum up fear and opposition to the marine park management plans.
“It is disappointing to see media reports omitting facts and information on by-catch management measures that underpin our fisheries and on the positive steps that have already been taken to protect turtles.
“In the case of this tuna fishery, vessels have line cutters and dehookers on their longlines, there are observers on boats, video monitoring and log books. For some time now there has been mandatory reporting of interactions with protected species.
“When it comes to proactive steps to protect turtles, last year the Australian government approved a recovery plan for marine turtles. through this plan, they identify actions to address threats to marine turtles, including international take and trade, and fisheries by-catch.
“The plan increases protection for turtles by prohibiting commercial longlining around all Coral Sea islands and reefs where turtles nest and forage.
“In particular, the area close to the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery is now protected from longlining and incorporates the largest nesting and breeding sites for turtles in the marine park.
“The six types of marine turtles present in Australia are also protected under the international convention for the conservation of migratory species, to which Australia is a signatory.
“We ask the community to seek more information, rather than just accept the simplistic and constantly negative stories put forward by those who want our oceans closed to commercial activities – the very activities that have a long and proud history of feeding our families.”
For comment from Seafood Industry Australia contact Jessica McInerney, Media and Communications Manager, Seafood Industry Australia
M: 0420 695 431