About 112 species of shark have been recorded in New Zealand fisheries. Of these, more than 70 species are caught by fishers.
Because sharks are generally near the top of the food chain, they are less abundant than many species further down the chain. As well as this, sharks mature late, grow slowly and produce only a small number of young at a time, so they have a much lower reproduction rate than many other fish.
These issues put sharks at risk of over fishing.
Current and future management
The New Zealand NPOA-Sharks was approved by the Minister of Fisheries on 13 October 2008.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has set up an International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks), with an aim to ensure the long term sustainability of these species.
As a member nation of the FAO, New Zealand is expected to establish a National Plan of Action for sharks (NPOA-Sharks).
New Zealand already has an established fisheries management system to manage extractive fisheries and protect threatened and endangered marine species, such as White Pointer sharks, from the effects of fishing. This system aligns closely with the IPOA Sharks.
However, a number of areas still need to be addressed to satisfy the objectives of the IPOA-Sharks.
New actions to be implemented under the NPOA-Sharks are:
Actions to eliminate live shark finning
i) Ensure fishers are aware that live finning of sharks constitutes ill treatment and is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act
The Ministry of Fisheries will ensure that the cruelty aspect of live finning is articulated clearly to fishers operating in fisheries where shark finning takes place.
ii) Establish reporting protocol to enforce the Animal Welfare Act
A reporting protocol will be established to ensure that any observed instances of live finning are reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
Actions to ensure appropriate management of threatened and endangered species
iii) Protect basking shark
As basking shark is listed on Appendix 1 of CMS, New Zealand has an obligation to provide protection for this species in New Zealand waters and from New Zealand vessels fishing on the High Seas.
iv) Develop and implement a prohibited utilisation process standard
The standard will be used to identify marine species where no level of utilisation is considered to be sustainable.
Actions to review shark management
v) Review Schedule Six provisions in relation to spiny dogfish
The Ministry of Fisheries will review the Schedule six provisions currently in place for spiny dogfish to ensure that they are appropriate.
vi) Review listing other shark species, or specific life stages of other shark species, on Schedule Six
The Ministry of Fisheries will review the use of Schedule six provisions to allow the live release of additional shark species, or specific life stages of other shark species.
vii) Review and revision of NPOA
A full review and revision of the NPOA-Sharks will be undertaken.
Actions to improve information
viii) Strengthen existing research and monitoring programme
The strengthened programme will address:
ix) Reduce use of generic shark reporting codes
- stock status and sustainable yields for exploited shark stocks
- effectiveness of conversion factors in achieving accurate greenweight;
- monitoring of wastage in shark fisheries;
- assessment of measures to promote improved utilisation;
- identification of areas of habitat of particular significance to shark species (e.g. spawning, pupping and nursery grounds); and
- review research and monitoring outputs to assess the effectiveness of shark management.
Reduce the percentage of the total commercial shark catch recorded against generic codes to below 1%. x) Produce a field identification guide
Production of a draft field identification guide for all QMS and other fish species (including sharks) commonly caught in commercial and non-commercial fisheries.
Actions to meet international obligations
xi) Participate in relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and other relevant international fora
Actively participate in the management and research of shark species which are managed through RFMOs of which New Zealand is a member; actively participate in other international fora engaged in the conservation and management of sharks; and support initiatives by other organisations/agencies to collect information on the distribution and abundance of shark species.
Read the NPOA-Sharks>>