Local youth hailed as advocate for mako sharks

Good idea: Xavier Ellul, centre, receives a certificate of appreciation from Jaala Pulford and Labor candidate for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman.

Good idea: Xavier Ellul, centre, receives a certificate of appreciation from Jaala Pulford and Labor candidate for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman.

Mako sharks might be frightening creatures to a lot of people but 14-year-old Warrnambool angler Xavier Ellul reckons the species still has a right to be in the ocean.

That’s why he has proposed a 1.2 metre minimum size before the mako can be harvested by commercial or recreational fishers in Victoria.

He reckons at that size, measured from the rear most gill slit to the base of the tail fin on any side of the body, the mako will have a chance to breed and the harvesting of the species can be sustainably managed.

His proposal has been taken up by VRFish, the representative body for Victoria’s recreational fishers, which passed the idea on to the state government’s Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA).

Xavier, a Year 8 student at Warrnambool College, was hailed on Thursday for his suggestion by Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford, VFA staff and other fishers.

Pubic consultation on the proposal will close on June 8 but the state government said most feedback so far had been very supportive, with 99 per cent of submissions backing the minimum size.

“The future of Victoria’s recreational fisheries is in good hands with passionate teenagers like Xavier playing an active role in the management of their favourite pastime,” Ms Pulford said.

“I congratulate Xavier for getting this on the agenda and hopefully he will encourage even more young keen anglers to wet a line,” she said.

The future of Victoria’s recreational fisheries is in good hands with passionate teenagers like Xavier playing an active role in the management of their favourite pastime.

Jaala Pulford

Xavier’s father Marty, a VRFish board member and keen offshore fisher, said mako sharks were slow growing and most would be about six to seven years old when they got to the proposed minimum 1.2 metre minimum size.

Mr Ellul said the overall length of mako sharks, when they got to the minimum 1.2 metres from the rear most gill slit to the base of the tail fin, would be about 1.8 metres and they would weigh about 35 kilograms.

They were deep water fish and rarely came close to shore, he said.

Mr Ellul said Xavier had done a lot of research on the internet about mako sharks after catching what he thought was a small one and releasing it back into the ocean.

“He thought every other fish is protected by a size limit and so should the mako,” Mr Ellul said.

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