Smooth Hammerhead Shark can continue to be caught, sold and exported (within limits)

Friday, 22 May 2020

CMS COP13 listings and government implementation

Highlighting the key outcomes from the 13th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), February 2020, I take this opportunity to advise of actions the Australian government has taken in relation to a number of species listings that were added to the Appendices of the Convention.

As you may be aware, Australia is a range state for 4 species that were added to Appendix I or II of the Convention:

Antipodean Albatross – Appendix I

Oceanic White-tip Shark – Appendix I

Smooth Hammerhead Shark –Appendix II

Tope Shark – Appendix II (otherwise known in Australia as school shark)

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires that, once listed on either Appendix to the Convention, all species must be included on the list of migratory species established under the Act. Once listed as a migratory species under the EPBC Act, irrespective of whether it is listed on Appendix I or II, it becomes an offence to kill, injure, take or move the species in Commonwealth waters. For an Appendix II listing, this goes beyond the requirement under the Convention that range states endeavour to enter into agreements for these species.

Australia already has strong domestic measures in place for the shark species that were added to Appendix II of the CMS. For example, the Smooth Hammerhead Shark is also listed on the Appendices to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which regulates trade of the species internationally. As such, the Smooth Hammerhead Shark is subject to an Australian Non-Detriment Finding that allows the export of 70 tonnes per year. Stringent management measures are also in place for the School Shark, following local evidence of a decline in the species. These measures have been effective in managing School Shark, with pupping area closures, gear restrictions, and a ban on targeting the species currently in place. Recreationally, these species are subject to strict bag limits imposed by State and Territory Governments. These domestic measures are considered appropriate for the management of these two species within Australian waters, and already go beyond the requirements of an Appendix II listing under the Convention.

Accordingly, Australia submitted a reservation for the Smooth Hammerhead Shark and the School Shark that were recently included on Appendix II of the Convention. This means that the listings will not take effect within Australian waters, and the species will not be included on the migratory species list under the EPBC Act.

This will not impact on Australia’s support for international action related to these species, or for shark conservation more broadly. As a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Sharks MoU), Australia will be supportive of facilitating information exchange and cooperative research work on the species.

For the remaining two species that were included on Appendix I to the Convention for which Australia is a range state, it is important to note that Australia has a domestic treaty action process that is required to be undertaken when any species is added to the Appendices of the Convention. This will be completed prior to the inclusion of any additional species on the migratory species list, noting that the Antipodean Albatross is already on the migratory species list under the EPBC Act due to its previous inclusion on Appendix II of the CMS in 1997.

Please feel free to contact Narelle by email if you would like any further information or clarification:

Narelle Montgomery

CMS Scientific Councilor for Australia

Assistant Director

Migratory Species Section

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

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