STOP THE SENSELESS SLAUGHTER OF RAYS
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OBJECTIVE: Ban the killing of rays in popular tourist region, Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne, Australia); to preserve their place in the ecosystem and their value to the local and tourist communities.
STOP THE SLAUGHTER: Large, gentle smooth rays are iconic residents of the many piers and jetties of Port Phillip Bay of Melbourne Australia (a popular tourist, diving and fishing region). These animals are much loved and highly regarded as having community value by locals, tourists, divers, snorkelers and many fishers. Yet these marine creatures are showing up dead beneath the piers, along with many harmless, smaller fiddler rays (aka ‘Banjos’) every week, being caught, killed and discarded as both ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’ catch. By their own testimony, some fishers are removing the wings from the large and small rays to use as bait for catching sharks and discarding the remains. There is also concern that stingray meat is potentially being sold as 'sea scallops' and 'calamari' at some restaurants.
CURRENT REGULATIONS AREN'T WORKING: The huge ray in this image was killed legally, and currently each fisher can legally kill up to 5 of these majestic animals per day in Victoria. Regulations need to be updated in line with public sentiment that these animals have greater value and interest to local, tourist, fisher and diver communities and the ecosystems they inhabit alive. Also of concern is the common but illegal practice of fishers frequently killing and throwing the smaller ‘banjos' back beneath the piers, not wanting to keep them or catch the same ray again. This is an offence against Fisheries Regulations 2019, Reg 101: Offence to fail to return fish to water without injury or damage - which is frequently not closely monitored and enforced. Some within the fishing community are either unaware of current regulations or have blatant disregard for them. Fishers can acquire a fishing license with no requirement to have read or understood regulations, and there is currently no signage on the fishing end of piers and jetties to reinforce the regulations and penalties in the absence of Fisheries officers.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS: In additional to illegal kills, there are many examples of cruelty where live, unwanted rays have their mouths torn out to retrieve fishing hooks before being dumped. While a smaller number of rays are killed for food, the process of their catch and slaughter is often inhumane. Some rays are cut in half while alive, removing their tail end and/or wings to be used as bait or food before being discarded back into the water which is currently legal (for disturbing video evidence, visit this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0KhjPXkgRQ ) We argue that current regulation regarding fisher treatment of both ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’ rays falls short of the best interest of the rays and the local and tourist populations of Port Phillip Bay.
PRECEDENT: In 2015, Fisheries WA in conjunction with Westfishrec announced a ban on fishers taking two species of rays (smooth stingrays and black stingrays) at Hamelin Bay, citing that ‘Fishers acknowledged the tourism and conservation value of large tame residential stingrays particularly in holiday locations”. This protection was later extended to all smooth and black rays in the West and South Coast Bioregions (Kalbarri to the South Australian border). Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Rowland said “Recreational fishers support protecting these species and their associated values”. Additionally, “Rays played an important role in the marine ecosystems as scavengers and predators … The public’s fascination with the winged wonders of the sea was reflected in their popularity with many residents who live on the coast and tourists who visit WA’s stingray aggregation areas.” (Department of Fisheries’ Aquatic Biodiversity Branch Team Leader, Dr Shaun Meredith) The same scenario applies to the rays of Port Phillip Bay, and the same ban is needed.
WE ARE PETITIONING TO:
1. Ban the killing of rays in Port Phillip Bay
2. Post signage on boat ramps and the fishing end of piers and jetties featuring pictures of these endemic species of rays, along with penalties for killing them against current and future regulation
3. Further educate the Victorian fishing community about current regulations and the proposed incoming bans on taking ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’ rays and how to release and return them without harm
4. Monitor piers, jetties and ramps more effectively with cameras, and position more Fisheries officers to deliver penalties to offenders
This #raysawareness petition will be submitted to the Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, Fisheries Victoria Director Travis Dowling and VRFish CEO Michael Burgess.
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