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Facts about finning live sharks: already illegal

Important facts about finning live sharks: it’s already illegal

3 September 2008

The New Zealand seafood industry supports measures that ensure the sustainability and ethical use of our marine resource. As people have recently expressed an interest in shark finning in New Zealand, here are some important facts to be aware of:

• The finning of live sharks or returning finned sharks live to the water is already banned and is illegal in New Zealand. Under the Animal Welfare Act, sharks must be dead prior to removing fins. This law applies to everyone fishing in New Zealand waters.

• The New Zealand seafood industry does not condone the finning of live sharks. It is inhumane and commercial fishermen must comply with the existing law that makes it illegal.

• The Fisheries Act provides the Ministry of Fisheries compliance unit with the power to enforce laws that relate to shark finning and reporting of shark captures.

• There is no evidence that New Zealand shark species are overfished. New Zealand is not contributing to the decline of shark species worldwide. Internationally protected shark species found in New Zealand waters (basking shark, whale shark and great white shark) are not commercially fished.

• Catches of all shark species managed under the QMS must be recorded. Under the Fisheries Act all quota managed shark species captured must be killed and the evidence of capture retained. Failure to report can result in fines, confiscation of vessels and gear, and imprisonment.

• Shark captures are generally an unintentional by-catch of other fisheries. The Minister of Fisheries sets very conservative and precautionary annual limits on the quantities of the most commonly caught sharks.

• The catch levels of most shark species, with the exception of elephant fish - for which there is a strong local market, are significantly below the limits set by the Minister.

• New Zealanders do eat the meat of some species of shark, such as school shark, elephant fish, ghost shark and rig regularly. For many other shark species there is no commercial market for the meat.

ENDS

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