Draft plan to further protect sharks from over-fishing
19 October 2007
New Zealand has taken significant steps to ensure the sustainability of our fishstocks, including sharks, and continues to work on new ways to protect sharks from over-fishing.
A National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks is being sent out for consultation with stakeholders today with submissions due back on 1 February 2008.
MFish manager deepwater and national issues Tom Chatterton says the draft plan is part of New Zealand’s response to global concerns about threats to sharks from fishing that have been highlighted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Dr Chatterton says the draft plan will look at all fishing threats to sharks. “New Zealand is in the fortunate position that we have a comprehensive fisheries management system.
“Sharks that are targeted by fishers have an annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC) set under the Quota Management System (QMS). This allows for fishing now and ensures there are enough fish left to keep a sustainable population to fish in the future. The majority of New Zealand’s shark catch falls into that category.
“For sharks that are rare or threatened there are other measures for protecting them. White-pointer sharks were protected from fishing this year under the Wildlife Act.
“One of the actions under the draft plan is to protect basking sharks, the second largest of all sharks, as they are very vulnerable to over-fishing."
The plan proposes a number of actions to improve the reporting of shark catch, and to identify areas of habitat that are important to sharks for spawning, pupping or as nursery grounds.
Dr Chatterton says better information will enable us to better manage our shark species. “Where a shark species is identified as being vulnerable to targeted fishing we can set catch limits to reduce the risk of overfishing.
“As some sharks swim across oceans, New Zealand will work with other countries in regional fisheries management organisations to collect information on distribution and abundance of shark species and get involved in wider research and management.
“The plan proposes further monitoring of wasteful fishing practices and processes to detect this. MFish will also assess measures to promote a more efficient use of each shark."
To download a copy of the draft plan, visit Consultations - NPOA-Sharks. Submissions close on 1 February, 2008.