Youth ambassador to deliver over 77,000 shark fin pledges to minister
A New Zealand Shark Alliance (NZSA) youth ambassador will this afternoon hand a giant shark fin pledge, representing 77,813 pledges that support a ban on shark finning, to Conservation Minister Nick Smith.
The pledges were signed by adults and children in New Zealand and overseas. They ask the government to help put an end to the situation in which fishing boats return to shore with their holds full of only shark fins, having killed and finned huge numbers of sharks at sea.
The government is currently taking submissions on its National Plan of Action – Sharks, which proposes to change the law so that by 2016 fishing operators will not be allowed to kill a shark just for its fins. Instead they will have to fully use the shark and bring the whole animal back to shore - or release it intact and alive. The New Zealand Shark Alliance supports the proposal but maintains that it should be brought into effect immediately.
“As alternatives to bringing the shark ashore, fishing operators will of course be able to take measures against hooking sharks in the first place or they will be able to return the shark to the water alive,” says Katrina Subedar, Forest & Bird Marine Advocate.
“I’m delighted that the government has said it wants to help protect sharks by stopping shark finning,” says Taylor Finderup, 14, who will present the pledges to the minister.
“I’m going to congratulate the Conservation Minister on what he has said he might do and I’m going to ask that he now goes through with it,” Taylor says.
The handover event at the Beehive will not be the only shark-related event in Wellington this week. Te Papa will be displaying many of the shark fin pledges the NZSA received, and Greenpeace will be mounting two shark art installations on the waterfront to highlight the final days of public submissions for the National Plan of Action – Sharks.
Katrina Subedar says New Zealand has been left behind on the shark finning issue and that now is the time for the country to catch up.
“Airlines across the globe, including Air New Zealand, are saying they won’t carry shark fins anymore. They’re doing this because they know the public generally hates the wastefulness of shark finning, and carrying shark fins threatens their reputations,” Katrina says.
Milena Palka, Marine Species Advocate at WWF New Zealand, says: “Already 100 countries and states have banned shark finning. It would have been great if New Zealand had been the first to ban it but at least our government has now acknowledged the issue.
“The proposal is a big leap forward. Besides the fact that it doesn’t call for an immediate ban, we’ll support it all the way.”
The NZSA is made up of Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, WWF, ECO, Our Seas Our Future, White Shark Conservation Trust, Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium, New Zealand Underwater, Earthrace,The ITM Fishing Show and Shark Fin Free Auckland.