Shark Finning


It’s good to see that the Ministry of Fisheries (MAF) are taking steps to legislate against live finning of sharks. Enforcing the legislation will be another challenge for MAF officers.

In Australia the whole shark has to be bought ashore before the fins can be removed. I was recently talking to a deck hand who worked on fishing boats out of Australian ports. He advised that the practise of finning at sea was still going on. As soon as the boat tied up to the wharf, the fin buyers were there and quickly picked up the fins and hastily disappeared down the wharf. A bag of fins take up a lot less space on deck, in the freezer, or on a pick-up than a whole shark body! It is hoped that when MAF bring in new regulation regarding shark finning that they also monitor the amount being bought by the buyers. That is where the money changes hands and that is where lips are sealed as to what is really going down! – Dave Moran, Editor

There were suggestions that a prevalent practise in pelagic fisheries was to remove fins from sharks and return them to the sea while they’re still alive. The Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson says the practise is nothing less than ‘abhorrent’. He has given strong direction that, if in fact it is occurring, it is to stop. There is now legal clarification that, although fishing in general is exempt from the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, when the Act applies in the circumstances in which sharks are caught, finned, and returned to sea alive, it is an offence under specific provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.

MAF now plans to educate fishers about the issue of ‘finning’ live sharks. It has begun by working with representatives of Tuna New Zealand Incorporated on a Code of Practice for dealing with sharks and ‘finning’. A draft has been circulted to all Tuna New Zealand members, and MAF has written to all commercial tuna longline fishers outlining the provisions of the Animal Welfare legislation. The thinking is that putting in place a robust Code of Practice, in combination with provisions in the Animal Welfare Act, which provide enforceable rules if requires, should ensure that sharks are treated humanely in our fisheries.

For the longer term, work has already begun on a National Plan of Action for sharks to provide a framework for sustainable management of this vulnerable species. A number of shark species will be introduced into the Quota Management System over the next three years which will provide the means to manage these stocks at sustainable levels.

Reprinted from ‘the bite’ – news from MAF.

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