FINDING a two-metre bull shark with its fins hacked off dying in the shallows of the Clarence River at Iluka was just the start of the horrors for the Moerman family.
On Tuesday, Sarah Moerman and a friend were taking their children for a swim at a popular beach near the coast guard station when they noticed something that looked like a log lying in the water near the bank.
“We were there after preschool for the usual swim and had seen a pod of dolphins so my friend decided to walk up the beach with her dog to look at the dolphins when she saw the shark,” she said.
“She called me over and as there was no blood we assumed it was dead, until we noticed that the shark’s gills were moving its eyes were open and it was weak, but definitely alive
The two adults thought it would be a routine matter to have the shark humanely killed to ease its suffering, but it was not the case.
“I began by reporting the shark to the coast guard and as they could do nothing I decided to call the ranger,” Ms Moerman said.
“This was an impossible task as all the numbers rang were either off or directed me to a WIRES carer in Brooms Head.” Ms Moerman tried the police.
“I was informed that it was too far and that I should take a large rock to the beach and drop it on its head,” she said. “How barbaric!
“After an hour of getting nowhere my husband, witnessing my distress, offered to ‘put the poor shark out of its misery’.
“He said it was nearly dead so another passer-by helped him to drag it out of the water by its tail and with one hit with a sledge hammer it was dead.”
NSW Fisheries officers inspected the carcass of the shark, which they found to be a female bull shark, measuring 2.98m, and estimated to be about 20 years old.
The shark had the first dorsal fin, lower tail fin and pectoral fins removed. The abdominal cavity had also been opened, suggesting any pups may also have been finned.
“It is illegal to fin sharks in NSW waters and offenders face penalties of up to $22,000 and/or six months imprisonment,” a department spokesperson said.
He said people who find sharks or other marine animals in distress or have information on the finning of this shark should contact their local NSW Fisheries officers or Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water officers, or call the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.
Loss and devastation of shark populations around the world. Experts estimate that within a decade, most species of shark will be lost because of long-line fishing.
Unsustainable fishery. The massive quantity of sharks harvested and lack of selection deplete shark populations faster than their reproductive abilities can replenish populations.
Threatens the stability of marine ecosystems.
Loss of sharks as a food staple for many developing countries.
Local waters are invaded by large industrial, foreign fishing vessels that threaten traditional sustainable fisheries.
Threatens socio-economically important recreational fisheries.
Obstructs the collection of species-specific data that are essential for monitoring catches and implementing sustainable fisheries management.
Wasteful of protein and other shark-based products. Up to 99 per cent of the shark is thrown away.