NZ has finally joined over 100 countries that have banned shark finning after immense international and domestic pressure.
However, the full ban will not be implemented until 2016
We believe this is too long to wait, especially given that many of our shark species are under great threat.
Submissions on the government’s National Plan of Action were due on December 8. If you wrote a submission thank-you for helping us to stop the wasteful practise of shark finning!
To see our submission, go here.
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
• 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?
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
Sharks are in decline
Some shark species are vulnerable to overfishing. For example, over 73,000 tonnes of porbeagle shark were landed in New Zealand waters during the 2010/11 season – the highest catch in eight years. And yet the stock status of this slow-breeding species is unknown. In 2011, the Ministry of Fisheries (now Ministry for Primary Industries) reported: “the ability of the stock to replace sharks removed by fishing is very limited”. Even more concerning, 80% of porbeagle sharks were caught solely for fins and the bodies dumped at sea. Other shark species face extinction because they are killed as by-catch of other fisheries. Pale ghost sharks for example are almost exclusively caught on accident by fishers.
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 (link) 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 over a three year period to allow fishers to comply to the new rules.
What do we want?
We believe three years is too long to wait for a ban on shark finning.
We will be encouraging the government to implement the ban quickly, especially in the highly migatory species fishery which is New Zealand’s main shark finning fishery.
Join us in our call for an immediate ban on shark finning and make a submission now!