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Discussion document on protecting great whites

13 March 2006

Discussion document on protecting great whites

Conservation Minister Chris Carter today released a discussion document canvassing options for protecting the great white shark in New Zealand waters.

"Great whites sharks are the celebrity predators of the ocean. They are an object of fear and fascination, but sadly there is growing evidence that this magnificent and rare species is in trouble internationally," Mr Carter said.

"In 2000, great whites sharks were listed as "globally vulnerable" on the International Red List of Threatened Species, amid fears accidental catch in some commercial and recreational fisheries is having a significant impact on numbers.

"Like many other top predators, populations of great whites tend to be small and lack the elasticity to withstand external pressures, such as fishing and environmental change," Mr Carter said.

"Our near neighbour, Australia, has already moved to protect the great white shark in its waters, but to date New Zealand has not, despite being a party to the International Convention on Migratory Species, which obliges us to do so. Great whites are also protected in South Africa and the United States.

"The government believes it is time we thought seriously about playing our part in what is a global conservation issue," Mr Carter said.

"The discussion document I am releasing today canvasses options for how we might go about meeting our international obligations for protecting the great white, and I am interested to hear the views of the public and stakeholders in the marine area on those options."

Copies of the discussion document and a fact sheet on the great white shark are available on www.doc.govt.nz

ENDS

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