Wellington - Environmental groups have welcomed new laws to ban shark finning in New Zealand waters but are disappointed it will be almost three years before they take full effect.
Today the Government announced killing sharks just for their fins and dumping the bodies at sea will be illegal by October 2016.
“This is great news for the tens of thousands of Kiwis who have been calling for a ban on shark finning,” says Karli Thomas New Zealand Shark Alliance spokesperson and Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.
“However, thousands of blue sharks, which are the species most often caught just for their fins in New Zealand waters, may be killed just for their fins before the law is in place. Most blue sharks are caught as bycatch and pulled into the boats alive. Many could be released unharmed. To continue finning blue sharks is a senseless waste and there are no excuses for a delay of almost three years.”
Globally around 270,000 sharks are killed every day and the trade in shark fins is driving much of this slaughter. This is causing a serious decline in the world's shark populations, and many species are under threat.
The new laws mean New Zealand will join around 100 countries and states, including Australia, the EU and US, to ban shark finning but the NZSA says the government needs to make sure it has closed all loopholes.
“The best international standards require highly migratory sharks to be brought back to shore in one piece. This is the most effective way to make sure fishers comply with the finning ban as they can’t hide any evidence of shark finning at sea,” says Thomas.
“While Conservation Minister Nick Smith has indicated sharks will need to be landed whole that commitment needs to be made public.”
New Zealand is among the world's top 10 nations for killing and exporting sharks and a major exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong. Recently we have also become the biggest exporter of dried shark fins to the United States.
“This announcement is an important step. We urge New Zealand’s fishing industry to respond to the wishes of most kiwis and stop shark finning as soon as possible rather than until 2015 and 2016,” says Peter Hardstaff, Head of Campaigns at WWF-New Zealand.
The New Zealand Shark Alliance is a group of organisations and scientists working together to ban shark finning in New Zealand waters and to protect sharks. It includes Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Shark Fin-Free Auckland, WWF, Our Seas Our Future, ECO, White Shark Conservation Trust, New Zealand Underwater, The ITM Fishing Show, Kelly Tarlton's Sealife Aquarium and Earthrace Conservation.
Phil Crawford, Greenpeace Communications & Media, 021 22 99 594