All the political parties – except National - put aside their differences today to support a pledge to end shark finning in New Zealand.
Cross-party support for the New Zealand Shark Alliance’s (NZSA’s) national petition comes from the Green Party, Labour, Mana, New Zealand First, United Future and Act. The Maori Party wasn’t able to attend this afternoon’s event outside Parliament, but the party has also lent its support to the pledge.
The National Party declined to meet NZSA representatives to discuss the issue.
Nearly 100 countries have already banned the practice that allows commercial fishers to remove highly-priced shark fins for export then dump the shark bodies overboard.
NZSA spokesperson and Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Katrina Subedar says shark finning is hugely wasteful and puts the survival of some shark species at risk.
“It’s extremely wasteful for fishers to dump 98 per cent of a shark’s body overboard after its fins have been removed. It is shameful that this disgusting practice is still legal inside our Exclusive Economic Zone,” she says.
New Zealand is one of the world’s top 20 exporters of shark fins.
An estimated 73-100 million sharks are caught around the world every year solely for their fins. The practice is widely condemned for causing a significant global decline in shark populations.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is currently reviewing the National Plan of Action for Sharks, which sets out to “conserve and manage our shark species”.
The NZSA is calling on the ministry to use this opportunity to end shark finning in New Zealand. The alliance wants to see legislation in place that requires fishers to bring sharks ashore with fins naturally attached. This would allow fishers to continue selling shark fins and encouraging the rest of the shark to be used.
The Labour Party’s conservation spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, who was at the public signing this afternoon, says that the Government must act now to end shark finning in New Zealand waters.
“It is pleasing to see the increasing support for this issue across the parties in Parliament. Sharks are a critical part of the health of our oceans. Many countries have moved against shark finning. It’s time for New Zealand to act too.”
Contact: NZSA spokesperson Katrina Subedar, 021 426 984, firstname.lastname@example.org
For high-res images of finned sharks, or of the signing event, please contact Forest & Bird Communications Officer Jay Harkness, 027 457 2891, email@example.com
• “Shark finning” is an industry term for removing the fins of a shark and dumping the body at sea. It is widely condemned as a grossly unsustainable practice contributing to the serious worldwide decline of sharks.
• NZSA members are Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, WWF, ECO, Our Seas Our Future, White Shark Conservation Trust, Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium, New Zealand Underwater, The ITM Fishing Show and Shark Fin Free Auckland.