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Forest & Bird today welcomed the release of a draft National Plan of Action on Sharks, which provides a constructive platform for protecting the diversity of sharks that live in Aotearoa New Zealand’s waters. 

In particular, we were pleased to see objectives seeking to discourage the wasteful and cruel killing of sharks.  

“We call on the Government to ban this practice outright, which saw more than 1000 blue, porbeagle and mako sharks killed and thrown overboard in 2021 alone,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey. 

“New Zealanders love the ocean and take pride in the unique range of animals that share our moana. We also care deeply about ensuring our oceans thrive for future generations. A healthy ocean needs sharks.” 

In 2021, fishers reported killing and dumping over 102 tonnes of blue sharks, over 26 tonnes of mako sharks, and over 33 tonnes of porbeagle sharks – a practice that is legal using an exemption under the Fisheries Act. This equates to over 1300 fully sized adult pelagic sharks and substantially more if the fishers were discarding juveniles. These disturbing numbers were revealed by an Official Information Act request by Forest & Bird for data from the Ministry of Primary Industries. 

Earlier this year, Forest & Bird released Government fisheries observer reports of sharks being cruelly killed in longline fisheries to retain hooks. The reports revealed a series of incidents where fishers have brutally killed or maimed sharks, cut out the hook and then thrown the dead or dying sharks overboard. 

Forest & Bird is calling on the public to make submissions on the draft National Plan of Action.  

“This plan must provide stronger protection for the diversity of sharks that call NZ waters home, including putting an end to the deliberate killing and discarding of sharks that aren’t fished for food,” says Keey. 

Additionally, we are seeking: 

  • To put the Government’s strategy to protect nature, Te Mana o te Taiao, at the heart of the National Plan of Action for sharks, including the agreed transition to zero bycatch and ecosystem-based fisheries management. 
  • Protection for key shark habitats from the impacts of coastal pollution, seabed mining and damaging fishing practices. 

“The Government also needs to learn the lessons from the review of the previous 2013 National Plan of Action on Sharks,” says Keey.  

“Many of the objectives weren’t achieved because agencies lacked the people, the information or the resources to get the job done. This time round ministers will need to commit to providing MPI, DOC and research agencies with the resources needed to better protect and manage sharks.” 

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