The license allows the holder exclusive rights to drag a three-quarter mile long net along the reef. Roughly 100,000 sharks were taken by commercial fishing in the region last year.
The organization cites a 2013 study published in the journal PLOS One that shows when sharks and other predators are removed from a coral reef’s ecosystem, the reefs have a harder time recovering from disease and other threats.
The WWF says it especially important to preserve shark populations in light of an unprecedented “bleaching” that’s hit the Great Barrier Reef this year.
“After bleaching, algae spreads,” WWF-Australia’s conservation director, Gilly Llewellyn told The Guardian. “Researchers found that where sharks were removed by overfishing, smaller predators like snapper became more abundant. These snapper kill the algae-eating fish and the algae then overwhelms young coral.”
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