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14, Mar, 2013

NZ Shark Alliance asks if Govt’s view on shark finning changing


Category: News

        

New Zealand’s support for new international laws to protect sharks has been applauded by the New Zealand Shark Alliance (NZSA), and is being seen as a sign that the Government may ban shark finning in local waters.

It is hoped that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand will later today (at around midnight tonight NZ time) approve several new measures to better protect sharks.

However several powerful fishing countries do not support the changes.

If the measures are adopted, hammerhead, porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, as well as manta rays, would all be listed under CITES’ ‘Appendix II,’ affording them greater protection against the international trade in fins, meat and gill rakers.

Species are only listed under ‘Appendix II’ if they are at risk of extinction.

CITES agreements do not override member countries’ domestic fisheries laws.

“New Zealand’s proactive stance at CITES hopefully means the Government is starting to see why we have to protect sharks from extinction, and that the National Plan of Action for Sharks, which Forest & Bird is involved in drafting, will include a ban on shark finning in New Zealand,” says Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate and NZSA spokesperson Katrina Subedar.

New Zealand law allows sharks to be killed, finned and then dumped at sea.

“Finning and dumping carcasses must be banned in New Zealand, as it is in international waters, for all the highly migratory sharks, such as blue, mako and porbeagle sharks. Porbeagle is one of the species likely to be adopted by CITES,” says Barry Weeber, from ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand).

“I hope that New Zealand’s actions in Bangkok are a sign of change,” Barry Weeber says.

The NZSA comprises of Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, WWF-NZ, ECO, Our Seas Our Future, the White Shark Conservation Trust, Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium, New Zealand Underwater, The ITM Fishing Show, Shark Fin Free Auckland and Earthrace.

Notes:
  • Shark populations are falling fast across the globe, with losses of up to 86 per cent in some locations.
  • Voting at the CITES conference has been tight. The earlier vote this week on the porbeagle shark’s inclusion under Appendix II was as follows: Yes - 93 (70.4%) No -39 Abstentions - 8
  • CITES Members meet every three years to adopt changes to species listed on CITES appendices.
  • On the high seas (outside of NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone) in the South Pacific, New Zealand vessels are required to land shark carcasses with fins naturally attached, while in New Zealand waters vessels can just fin and dump carcasses.