Left field way to save the Reef

CONSERVATION group WWF plans to buy a Great Barrier Reef shark fishing licence in an effort to save the fish and other species from death.

The organisation has launched a fundraising drive so it can "buy and retire" a licence - a move it says will save at least 10,000 sharks each year, along with dugongs, turtles and dolphins killed as by-catch.

WWF conservation director Gilly Llewellyn said the reef's shark catch had increased from 222 tonnes in 2014 to 402 tonnes last year.

"This is an opportunity for people to help stop a massive 1.2km-long net from sitting in reef waters and indiscriminately killing almost everything that swims into it," she said.

"These enormous nets kill tens of thousands of juvenile sharks each year, including hammerheads which are listed internationally as endangered.

"Hammerhead numbers have crashed in Queensland, possibly by 80%."