July 26, 2012
Research conducted by Murdoch University indicates China’s whale shark trade might have serious consequences on Western Australian tourism.
The study, by Brad Norman of Murdoch’s Centre for Fish, Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems Research, has shown whale sharks are increasingly being targeted due to high demand for large fins.
The research team surveyed more than 2500 fishermen in 27 fishing harbours in eight coastal provinces.
The study shows fisheries officers have paid little attention to direct and incidental captures – often incorrectly telling fisherman that whale sharks are not a protected species.
Whale sharks are migratory and can travel thousands of kilometres.
“While they’re protected in Australia, once they leave our waters, they’re at risk of being hunted,” Mr Norman said.
According to Mr Norman, the Ningaloo Marine Park might be damaged by this emerging crisis.
The study was undertaken in collaboration with Shandong University at Weihai in China.