School shark

School shark: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Galeorhinus galeus

Other names: makohuarau (Maori), grey shark, greyboy, tope, flake, milandre (France), eirakubuka, mejirozame (Japan).

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: School shark

 Ranking: E (Red- Worst Choice)

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Alternative Choice: No alternative

Description: School shark, is a long-lived and slow growing species that is late to mature.  This means the fishery has low overall productivity and, as with most other sharks, the species is highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. Like rig, it is sold as a “fish and chip” option. It is widespread throughout the coastal waters of New Zealand, but is particularly abundant in the north at depths of at least 200m. It is caught throughout the year, mainly by set netting.

Ecological concerns: The school sharks fishery poses a threat to globally endangered Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, which may be caught and killed in nets (particularly set nets) and risks catching other marine mammals, seabirds and non-target fish. Trawling for schools shark may also impact seabed habitats. Restrictions on set netting and trawling introduced in May 2008 have reduced the risk of catching endangered dolphins and other bycatch species. However, offshore fishing outside the closed areas still poses a significant risk plus.

Other concerns include the uncertainty about basic biological information on school sharks, the decline in West Coast South Island and Southland catch rates;  the absence of quantitative stock assessments and consequently the unknown sustainability of current catch levels and limits. Lack of information on the size and sex composition of the catch and the lack of a management plan are additional concerns.

Whilst there is no management plan for school sharks, in 2008 a New Zealand National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks was developed. However, there are no specific conservation actions for school sharks, nor is there any difference in its management from the status quo.

Economic value: School shark is sold for the New Zealand fish and chip market and is exported to main markets in Australia, fetching $6.15m in 2008.


Biology and risk of overfishing (score D)
Status and sustainability of fish catches (score D)
Impact of fishing method and protected, threatened and endangered species captures (score D and E)
Management and management unit (score D and B)

For a full ecological assessment, click here