Jul 16 2016

WWF Buys Fishing License (Blog Post 2)

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WWF is doing something unusual for environmental groups, but the reasons why they are doing it justify the action. They are buying a $100,000 commercial shark-fishing license in the Great Barrier Reef. But they are not buying to fish sharks; they are buying it protect them.

The WWF is buying this license because whoever owns the license can fish in the area, and can operate detrimental actions on the marine life in the area. The current owner has been dragging a “1.2km net anywhere along the length of the Great Barrier Reef, targeting sharks (Slezack).” However, this does not just endanger sharks. Like in many marine ecosystem, many animals are present, and the net often attacks animals that were not meant to be fished, such as dolphins and sea turtles. This is called bycatch, and it is disastrous to marine life. Usually, like in this circumstance, nets are dragged on the sea floor, hoping to catch a certain animal species, such as a shark. This will guarantee the fisher a lot of some kind of animal, so they use nets. However, other animals that the fisher would not sell also get caught in the net. Usually by the time they are attested to, the animals have passed away due to the oxygen, and then the bodies are discarded. Many animals are killed for really no reason then poor fishing. It is a shame for marine life, and can cause harmful effects if this practice stands the test of time. It can deplete numbers of animals and cause some breeds to become endangered.



Anyway, the WWF buying this fishing license will be a victory for sharks in the Queensland area. The area generated about 10,000 caught sharks per year. And from 2014 to 2015, shark intake almost doubled, from 222 tonnes to 402 tonnes (Slezack).

Along with limiting the species, there are more side effects of shark numbers falling. Sharks are apex predators, and are important to the food chain. When large amounts of them are taken out of a habitat, the prey they would have eaten expands in numbers, and then there is not enough food for them to eat. That can decrease fish population, and decrease algae and plankton population. This can alter the oxygen levels in the water, as well as the minerals. And then, that whole are of the ocean is changed. If you take one animal out of the ecosystem, everything else changes. Also, this can have effects on humans as well, who eat many sea creatures.

In the Great Barrier Reef area, there have been recent bleaching’s, which have affected the ecosystem as well, along with the algae who cannot adapt to the new environment (Slezack). With the less number of sharks in the area, snapper, who is a smaller predator, have been increasing in size and eating more than they should. These snapper eat algae-eating fish, and then the excess of algae “overwhelms” the coral (Slezack). Then coral dies, and does not act as a habitat for many animals, who then have to find new shelter. Affecting the environment with overfishing and bleaching effects one aspect, but that one aspect effects and changes the whole ocean.



The biggest thought I would take away from this article is that one small ripple in the ocean changes everything else, and the ocean never fully recovers from it. The ocean can adapt, but it is never the same. It is interesting to think what the ocean was like hundreds of years ago, when it was more untouched. The WWF buying this land to save it is an initiative that can be used for other areas by other groups, so it will be interesting to see the affect it has on other areas of land and ocean.


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Slezak, Michael. “WWF Buys Shark Fishing License on Great Barrier Reef to Scrap It.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 July 2016. Web. 16 July 2016.

One response so far

One Response to “WWF Buys Fishing License (Blog Post 2)”

  1.   Adam Lauon 23 Jul 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Another interesting twist on this story is that WWF used crowdfunding to purchase the shark-fishing license. Environmental groups seem to have mixed results with the approach so far: Greenpeace planned to pool crowdfunding and donor money to purchase (and pack up) coal mines owned by Vattenfall in Germany, however were barred from the bidding process. On the other hand, crowdfunders in New Zealand successfully purchased a pristine beach at Awaroa Inlet (with a last-minute contribution from local government). The 800-meter beach will eventually be incorporated into a local national park. In the U.S., crowdfunding conservationists even launched a new organization named WorthWild to spread their methods. Could this approach could offer economists a novel way to put a dollar amount on how much the public values conservation?


    1. Roy, Eleanor. Crowdfunding campaign buys pristine New Zealand beach for the public. The Guardian, 23 Feb 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.

    2. Bloomberg. Greenpeace plans bid for Vattenfall’s German coal business. dw.com, 5 June 2015. Web. 23 July 2016.

    3. WorthWild. Funding the Environment, WorthWild. Web. 23 July 2016.