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Sea Shepherd welcomes ban of shark finning in NZ water

Media Release: Friday January 10, 2014

Sea Shepherd New Zealand welcomes ban of shark finning in New Zealand waters but disappointed with time frame for implementation

Conservation Minister Nick Smith and the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have released New Zealand’s National Plan of Action – Sharks with a commitment to a complete ban of shark finning in New Zealand waters over the next three years. This legislation, if properly enforced, will bring shark conservation legislation in line with the 100 countries in the world that have already banned shark finning.

There has been an overwhelming array of public support from local and international conservationists – with 45 300 submissions, and 77 000 petition and pledge signatures. Although currently in the top twenty of countries that export shark fin, the national carrier Air New Zealand has joined the global trend of airlines refusing to transport shark fins, and a major seafood industry company has voluntarily ceased to fin sharks.

But Sea Shepherd New Zealand is concerned with the time frame planned to implement legislation and its enforcement. Protection is planned to begin October 2014 for some species, October 2015 for the remainder except for the Blue Shark. Of the 113 shark species that traverse New Zealand’s waters, only one species has had a stock assessment and seafood industry claims of plentiful populations are unfounded due to insufficient data. Using a precautionary approach because of current data deficiency determines that no species should be harvested at all. Enforcement strategies remain to be finalised although it is crucial that for legislation to be effective it needs to adequately enforced and understood by all participants.

The sharks most finned in New Zealand are the Highly Migratory Species (Blue, Porbeagle, Mako) which are also on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The Blue Shark is of particular concern due to the current take of one million kilograms caught each year for their fins, its IUCN status as Near Threatened, and protection planned for October 2016. Delaying protection for Highly Migratory Species are claimed to provide the seafood industry the time required to develop new systems of safely releasing live sharks and to protect fishers. This is an effort to delay the ban for New Zealand’s most lucratively finned shark, and a particularly unusual response when over ten years ago these sharks were released alive.

Sea Shepherd New Zealand requests an immediate ban of shark finning in New Zealand waters and calls for seafood industry leaders to show responsible fishing to voluntarily cease shark finning, and to release all sharks caught - alive.

ENDS

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