Environmental groups are welcoming some aspects of a raft of law changes announced today in relation to shark finning, but say that overall the chance for New Zealand to catch up with international efforts in shark conservation is being missed.
“Our major trading partners – including the European Union, Australia, and the United States – have all made comprehensive changes to put a stop to the killing, finning and then dumping of sharks’ bodies at sea,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.
“Unfortunately, the new regulations announced today by the New Zealand government fall short.
“It’s great that some species of sharks will now have to be brought ashore whole, rather than being finned at sea. But we’re concerned that among the exemptions to this requirement are mako and porbeagle sharks, both vulnerable species.”
The New Zealand Shark Alliance says these species should also be required to be brought ashore whole, in line with best international best practice.
“With today’s announcement, loopholes could mean some shark finning of species like mako and porbeagle sharks could continue. Stipulating a certain weight ratio of shark fins to carcasses is simply not as effective as requiring sharks to be landed whole, with their fins naturally attached,” Karli Thomas says.
“Ratios aren’t accurate. Overseas experience shows they create loopholes that fishers will continue to exploit. It’s an approach that has been tried and rejected by many other countries, in favour of bringing these sharks back to shore whole,” she says.
“The new laws will also allow dead sharks that are brought aboard ships to be dumped overboard. With very few observers aboard New Zealand fishing vessels, particularly the tuna longline fleet, there is a real risk that fishers will simply kill and dump sharks rather than release them alive,” says Forest & Bird Marine Advocate Katrina Goddard.
“There is a clear need for much greater observer coverage onboard fishing boats operating inside New Zealand’s four million square kilometre-plus Exclusive Economic Zone.
“However, we welcome the fact that spiny dogfish, and all other non-quota management shark species, will now have to be brought ashore whole.”
Dumping finned sharks alive back into the sea is already illegal under animal welfare laws.
Katrina Goddard, Forest & Bird Marine Advocate 021 426 984
Karli Thomas, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner: 021 905 582
The New Zealand Shark Alliance is a group of organisations and scientists working together to ban shark finning in New Zealand waters and to protect sharks. It includes WWF, Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Shark Fin-Free Auckland, Our Seas Our Future, ECO, White Shark Conservation Trust, New Zealand Underwater, The ITM Fishing Show, Kelly Tarlton's Sealife Aquarium and Earthrace Conservation.