Grisly scenes on a remote beach in Western Australia have devastated conservationists, who say the mutilation of four endangered animals is "idiotic and barbaric".
Last Friday morning the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) was notified of the four endangered green sawfish found at Cleaverville Creek, east of Karratha, on the sand. Their rostrums — which some people see as "trophies" — were removed.
"Killing sawfish for their rostrum is no better than killing elephants for their ivory, or white sharks for their jaws. It's idiotic and barbaric," founder of Envoy Foundation, Andre Borell told Yahoo News Australia.
"From our perspective when this happens to any animal, it's definitely bad activity and these people should be prosecuted and jailed," foundation campaigner Rose Marimon added.
In WA, green sawfish are a protected species, and are also classed as vulnerable under federal legislation.
"Green sawfish have been severely impacted by fishing and habitat loss throughout most of their Indo-Pacific range," Senior Research Scientist with the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said.
What are the penalties for catching them?
A brutal act like this in WA could cost $25,000, which includes a general fine of $5,000 applying followed by $5,000 for each fish.
The person or people responsible have not been found as of yet, and anyone with information is urged to get in contact with FishWatch on 1800 815 507 or online on Crime Stoppers.
"DPIRD recommends that people do not approach anyone they think is involved in illegal activity involving fish or fishing, and simply report their concerns to FishWatch," DPIRD added.
Experts worry about 'flow-on effect' of incident
Ms Marimon believes there needs to be more "discouragement" from the federal minister of environment, so that the protection act of sawfish is observed and "enforced more closely" in all states.
"Animals swim large distances in Australia and just because an animal is killed in WA, we don't know what the impact of that is more broadly on the marine environment of Australia," she said. "What if that animal was a breeding animal? Now their line of breeding is ended."
"This mindset that we break up the areas and programs into states is this false paradigm because the ocean doesn't have these boundaries, animals are free to swim wherever they want."
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