Sea Shepherd has been following closely the case of shark finning contractor Gregory Bruce Pearce since August 2016 when his home was raided in Rainbow Beach and found to contain, amongst other illegal fishing haul, shark fins which was likely to have been intended for illicit sale.
Shark fin can fetch high prices supplying the devastating shark fin trade, mainly through Hong Kong which feeds the shark fin soup restaurants. Shark finning worldwide is likely the practice that has the greatest impact on the world’s dwindling shark numbers killing in the order of 100 million sharks annually. It is a disgusting practice that must end. An ocean without sharks is a dead ocean.
Despite facing 19 charges including the possession of shark fin taken whilst working as a government contractor and failing to keep proper records, Gregory Pearce was this week fined $3500 in the Gympie Court without having a conviction recorded.
This soft response by our justice system does nothing to serve the marine life endangered by this disgusting practice off our Queensland Coast. Having no conviction recorded is not a deterrent for others or Pearce to resume their profitable activities exploiting sharks entangled in Queensland’s antiquated and ineffective Shark Control Program. We cannot imagine public servants and contractors in other government departments being treated so leniently.
Sea Shepherd calls for a thorough review of the practices of the contractors and immediate implementation of effective oversight of their work with an independent observer program. It’s not good enough to have these proven serious transgressions continue to go unchecked. NSW has an observer program, although its observer rates are poor. Qld can do so much better in providing transparency through an observer program and frequent release of catch and bycatch data.
Sea Shepherd believes that these alleged activities have been endemic amongst contractors of the Queensland Shark Control Program for years and should be investigated and prevented.
Sea Shepherd’s Apex Harmony campaign has been bringing transparency to the practices and devastation of the Queensland Shark Control Program for four years and will continue to do so until we see the end of the destructive nets and drum lines.
Because of the proven illegal behaviour within the Queensland Shark Control Program, the Queensland Labor Government must now properly implement their election platform which included a commitment to ‘an investigation and ongoing scientific review of non-lethal shark monitoring, control, and incident prevention measures’. It’s just not good enough to make an election promise and then pretend it doesn’t exist. Fisheries Minister Mark Furner must take immediate action to clean up the mess that is the Queensland Shark Control Program.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for the Qld Government to make the move away from nets and drum lines and to begin a serious program of replacement with effective non-lethal shark bite mitigation technologies.