australia tagged posts

Endangered Australian fish being sold in shops and restaurants

A worker prepares a fish for sale. Some endangered fish species caught in Australian waters are being sold in shop and fish markets. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Endangered fish species are being routinely sold to Australian and international consumers thanks to a little-known feature of environmental laws that allows for the species to be commercially fished. Under Australian environmental laws, marine species that are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered are classified as “no take” species, meaning they cannot be sold or exported.

But species such as blue warehou, eastern gemfish and scalloped hammerhead, which are eligible for listing, are instead categorised as “conservation dependent”, meaning they can be caught in Australian waters and sold in shops, fish markets and restaurants, or exported, despite being considered threatened.

Marine conservationists have long argued for the removal of this category from Austra...

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Proposal to open Ningaloo Reef to oil and gas exploration

The Australian government has released a proposal to potentially open the waters off Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay for oil and gas. The acreage release process asks members of the industry to nominate areas they are interested in for oil and gas exploration, then to put those nominations out for public comment. The government will then consider the public comments and pull together a formal release of areas, for which oil and gas companies will bid. Environmentalists have stated that is move makes it clear that the industry intends to push south from the Pilbara into these ecotourism hotspots.

“The very large areas off Ningaloo are startling, to be honest. It is extraordinary that the government would consider releasing these areas so close to the reef,” Protect Ningaloo director Pau...

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Australia’s deep-sea canyons feature coral gardens

The deep-sea isn’t the barren, bizarre environment we once thought it to be. It can be brimming with life, often in unexpected shapes. Bremer Canyon Marine Park is already well-known as a biodiversity hotspot. All sorts of whales and dolphins, fish and seabirds, call it home. Marine scientists have been conducting research on megafauna in the area for over a decade, but there’s still much more to discover.

In the most recent survey, researchers at the University of Western Australia teamed up with the philanthropic Schmidt Ocean Institute to explore the deeper parts of the sea — specifically, the canyon itself.

Using the deep-sea remotely operated vehicle, SuBastian, which is capable of sampling depths to 4,500 meters, they set out to explore the depths of Bremer Canyon.

The canyon ...

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Heatwave Causes Extreme Coral Bleaching In Australian Marine Park

Residents of the coral reefs in Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been hit with widespread coral bleaching

The world’s southernmost coral reefs have fallen victim to climate change. According to reports, the Lord Howe Island Marine Park is experiencing severe coral bleaching.

In some areas, about 90 percent of reefs have been damaged. Scientists said that this is the worst coral bleaching that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has experienced in recent memory.

Warm Summer Water Causes Widespread Coral Bleaching

Researchers from Newcastle University, James Cook University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have surveyed the area for the past two weeks. They revealed that the bleaching occurred over the past summer, peaking in March, due to sustained heatwaves and warm ocean water temperature.

They also reported that the bleaching is at its most severe in shallow w...

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‘Archaic’ shark program to be abolished in Queensland

Great White Shark tagged and released

New data has revealed more than 500 sharks have been caught off Queensland as a result of a controversial shark control program. The majority of sharks were found dead and many others were euthanased over a 12-month period last year through the use of drumlines and nets.

Conservation groups say the Queensland Government program, which was established more than 50 years ago, needs to be abolished.

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) senior marine campaigner Tooni Mahto called the practice “inhumane and archaic”.

“Under the Queensland control program there are 26 species of shark which are listed as being a threat to humans. That’s totally nonsensical,” she said.

In New South Wales, the State Government is trialling the use of “smart” drum lines, which alert authorities when an an...

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Australia offers cash for Great Barrier Reef rescue ideas

Crown-of-thorns on Great barrier Reef

Australia is calling on the world’s top scientific minds to help save the Great Barrier Reef, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research into protecting the world’s largest living structure. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef is reeling from significant coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change. The 2,300-km (1,400-mile) site is also under pressure from farming runoff, development and predatory crown-of-thorns starfish, with experts warning it could be suffering irreparable damage.

On Tuesday, the Australian government announced a 2.0 million Australian dollar ($1.6 million) funding pot available to people with bright ideas on how to save the reef.

“The scale of the problem is big and big thinking is needed, but it’s important to reme...

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Queensland is killing huge numbers of sharks

Grey Reef Shark

The state government in Queensland, Australia, has for five decades sought to prevent shark attacks through a program that attacks sharks. But new numbers on killed sharks off the coast of some of the world’s best beaches indicate Queensland may be a bit more bloodthirsty than necessary.

During the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the state government helped kill 621 sharks: 251 tiger sharks, 173 whaler sharks, 111 bull sharks, and eight great whites, according to Bill Byrne, Queensland’s fisheries minister. He denies that the program aims to slaughter sharks en masse, but instead seeks to trap those that are considered a direct threat to swimmers and surfers.

Environmental activists, however, argue the program targets sharks that are in some cases endangered, including, notably, the great whi...

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Crown of thorns appears in pristine parts of W Australia

Crown-of-thorns

The crown of thorns starfish which has devastated large areas of the Great Barrier Reef has infested areas around the Montebello Islands off the Pilbara coast.

Surveys going back to the mid-1970s have shown the existence of the marine invertebrates in the reefs off the Pilbara coastline. However, the numbers being currently observed are much higher than seen in previous years.

Dr John Keesing is the Senior Principal Research Scientist with the CSIRO in Perth and has recorded 185 animals per hectare.

“Above about 10 crown of thorns starfish per hectare will cause noticeable damage on coral reefs.” he told ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt.

Though the numbers are high in Western Australia, they are certainly not as high as those seen on the Great Barrier Reef.

For Dr Keesing, who began studying the...

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Late-season cyclone may ease coral bleaching threat

Coral Reef

The threat of major coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef looks to be receding with the onset of stormier weather including the formation of the first tropical cyclone of the season likely to cross the coast. Sea temperatures are warmer than average from about Townsville all the way down the coast to the NSW-Victorian border, creating one of the components for coral stress.

Unusually calm conditions over much of the Great Barrier Reef have also contributed to setting up possible bleaching events as clearer water lets more sunlight reach the sea floor. During bleaching events, corals expel the algae that provide as much as 90 per cent of the energy they need to grow and reproduce, killing some of them.

“Heat makes light toxic,” Andrew Baird, a coral reef ecologist at James Cook Univers...

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Nonsense begins again

Sean Pollard

Great Whites are killed after surfer loses arm and hand. The carcasses of two great white sharks caught off the coast of Esperance, in southern Western Australia, will be cut open after a surfer was attacked.

Sean Pollard, 23, lost part of an arm and his other hand in the attack at Kelpids Beach, Wylie Bay, on Thursday morning. He is in a stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital.

Two great white sharks were caught and killed after WA’s Department of Fisheries deployed drum lines off the beach following the incident.

The sharks have been taken to Perth by truck for research purposes, and Mr Pollard’s surfboard will also be forensically examined by shark experts.

However, the Department of Fisheries conceded it might not be possible to confirm whether the sharks killed were involved in the...

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