What is the problem?
Shark finning is an unsustainable and extremely wasteful practice. In NZ it is still legal to kill a shark just for its fins and then dump the body back into the ocean.
Ninety-eight countries have now banned shark finning. NZ is one of the few countries that still tolerate this brutal practice. Worldwide there is concern that finning is contributing to a severe population decline of sharks. Over 100 million sharks are killed every year, just for their fins which fuels an industry valued at over US$1.2 billion worldwide.
Did you know?
New Zealand is one of the top twenty exporters of shark fins to
Hong Kong, alongside Spain, Taiwan, and Singapore
New Zealand shark fin exports are worth: $4.5million annually
New Zealand fishing exports are worth: $1.56 billion
More than seventy three of the one hundred and twelve shark species in New Zealand waters are commercially fished
Only 9% (eleven species) are managed under the QMS (Quota Management System)
The remaining species in New Zealand waters are not protected.
So why the fins?
Some people believe shark fins have special pharmaceutical properties. Others prize the fins as the core ingredient of shark fin soup. Shark fins fetch outrageous prices overseas, up to US$1000 per kilo which urges fishing companies to pursue and slaughter sharks wholly for their fins and dump the carcass at sea.
But surely the NZ government has rules to protect sharks?
The New Zealand government uses a Quota Management System for most commercially fished species to avert overfishing. But there are serious holes in this method so that some shark species, including the most frequently caught species, are ineffectively managed.
For example the most frequently caught sharks have never had a measureable stock assessment, so it is not possible to set accurate quotas and ensure the species’ long-lasting survival.
Blue, porbeagle & shortfin mako are the most common sharks finned in New Zealand
All are caught primarily as by-catch in the tuna long line fisheries
All of these are listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature ) Red List of threatened species.
What is New Zealand's responsibility?
New Zealand has an international duty to establish a National Plan of Action-Sharks (NPOA). The objective of the NPOA-Sharks is “to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use”.
Introduced in 2008, New Zealand’s NPOA-Sharks is required to be reviewed every 4 years, with the first review occurring in early 2013. This is our best chance to point out the failures in the structure, the insufficient observer coverage for shark fisheries, pointless quotas and collapsing shark populations. This is our chance to change the NPOA-Sharks so that it actually meets its objective.
What’s being done in New Zealand to stop shark finning?
The NZ Shark Alliance is an umbrella group of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), united in a campaign to ban shark finning in New Zealand waters and protect our sharks.
The alliance is fighting to bring NZ shark laws in line with other countries. The alliance are insisting that if the fishing industry is going to catch sharks that it be done sustainably. The sharks are killed and brought to shore complete with their fins naturally attached (FNA). This internationally-recommended approach will cease the extremely wasteful practice of only slaughtering sharks for their fins, strengthen laws against live finning and promote long-term sustainable fishing
What you can do!
You can help the NZ Shark Alliance by:
learning more about the issue (there is a lot of great information online)