Ballina’s commercial fishers have been subject to raids on their boats by NSW Fisheries as early as 4am following the de-finning of a protected grey nurse shark last month.
The shark was found washed up, still alive, on Evans Head beach but died a short time later. The matter was reported to the department of primary industries, which has been investigating.
Dozens of boats were checked, according to Ballina Fishermen’s Co-Op GM Phil Hilliard.
Mr Hilliard told APN Media that it was unlikely commercial fishers would do such a thing because of the likelihood of losing their licence. By comparison, amateurs, if they went to court, would probably only get a ‘slap on the wrist’, he said.
The incident has prompted the Greens to demand last week that the person found to be responsible for the live mutilation of the shark be punished.
NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann called on primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson to give ‘full protection’ to the critically endangered creature’s habitat. She said recent public consultation over the issue was clearly supported by the community but the minister had failed to act.