Shark Rescue

NZ has finally joined over 100  countries that have banned shark finning after immense international and domestic pressure.

The new laws mean New Zealand will join many nations including Australia, the EU and US that have banned shark finning. 

Late last year, Conservation Minister Nick Smith received 77,813 pledges asking the government to join this international movement and support a ban on shark finning,  

Thank-you to all of those people who took the time to write to Minister Nick Smith, signed our pledge, or wrote a submission! 

The government recently announced it would bring forward the ban foward to October. 

But the fight is not over just yet. We still need your help to ensure that the ban actually works and there are no loopholes…

The strategies proposed are not based on international best practise as certain sharks like our migratory sharks, such as blues, makos, and porbeagles are still vulnerable.

The final policy changes can’t cut corners. Let’s do this once and let’s do this right.

Click here to make a submission by June 22. 

Shark populations in decline

We would like to thank the 60,000 people who signed our shark petition. 

Sharks are in decline around the world, and New Zealand too is contributing to the problem.

Shark fishing in our waters has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. On average 24,000 tonnes of shark – the equivalent weight of 300,000 people - are caught every year in New Zealand waters.

New Zealand has at least 112 shark species. Of these, 73 species are known to be caught by our fisheries, including 28 that are listed as “threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Only great whites and basking sharks are currently protected in our waters.

Shark Finning - New Zealand's Shame 

Fast Facts 

NZ is one of the top 20 exporters of shark fins to Hong Kong, alongside Spain, Taiwan, and Singapore

NZ shark fin exports are worth ~ $4.5million annually, NZ fishing exports are worth ~$1.56 billion 

Over 73 of the 112 shark species in NZ waters are commercially fished

Only 9% (11 species) are managed under the Quota Management System

The remaining species in NZ waters are completely unprotected.

Every year over 100 million sharks are killed around the world, only for their fins. That’s about 1800 dead sharks in the time it takes to read this article.

Shark finning is a wasteful and inhumane practice that involves catching a shark, killing it, removing the fins and dumping the body overboard.

Finning means only 2% of the shark is actually used. It is unnecessarily contributing to declining shark numbers, some of which are already dangerously low. 

 Shark finning is already illegal in over 100 countries including Australia, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, the European Union, Guam, Guatemala and Belize.

At the moment, in New Zealand it is a different story,  fishers can remove fins if the sharks are dead. 

 What’s so special about shark fins?

Finned carpet sharks that were found in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Ministry of Fisheries

Finned carpet sharks that were found in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Ministry of Fisheries

The shark fin industry is driven by demand from East Asian countries where fins are the main ingredient of the highly-prized delicacy shark fin soup.

Fins exported from New Zealand can fetch price tags up to $1200/kg. New Zealand ranks among the top 20 countries for selling shark fins to Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Singapore and our annual exports for shark fins are worth about $4.5million.

Anecdotal reports suggest shark fins are increasingly targeted by commercial fishers because of increasing demand and prices.

Forest & Bird is not against shark fin soup. We fully support restaurants and exporters that use shark fins from sharks caught in a sustainable manner. That means fins sourced from fishers that use the entire shark, and do not throw unwanted shark meat overboard. 

We simply don’t know enough

Of the 73 shark species commercially-fished on New Zealand waters, the Ministry has good records on the population figures of only three shark species. 

 It’s impossible to determine the fishing industry’s impact on shark populations without accurate data. And it means maximum catch limits for sharks, as set under the Quota Management System, are nothing more than wild guesses. In reality, we don’t know if the catch limits are protecting sharks from overfishing.

Recent data on shark by-catch as well as anecdotal reports from recreational and game fishers indicate that shark numbers are in decline (see side box for more information).

What’s is Forest & Bird doing?

Forest & Bird has been campaigning hard to stop shark finning in New Zealand. We co-founded the New Zealand Shark Alliance with independent groups like Greenpeace, WWF, Shark Fin Free Aotearoa, Dive New Zealand and several other organisations.

The alliance has been fighting to bring New Zealand shark legislation in line with other countries. It’s advocating sharks are caught by commercial fishers are killed and brought to shore with “fins naturally attached”. This internationally-recommended approach will discourage the wasteful practice of killing sharks only for their fins, reinforce laws against live finning and encourage long-term sustainable fishing.

Click here to visit the New Zealand Shark Alliance Facebook page.

What is our Government doing about shark finning?

The government has just announced a proposal to stop the senseless and wasteful practice of killing sharks just for their fins then throwing their bodies back into the ocean.

The government plans to roll out the changes this October and is currently seeking submissions. To submit your e-card, see here.