Date set for shark finning ban

The finning of dead sharks will be completely banned by 2016, the Government has announced.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning released the National Plan of Action for Sharks which lays out the Government's objectives for managing shark populations for the next three years.

In November, ministers proposed a ban on the finning of dead sharks.

They initially proposed that the ban would be applied to all species by 2016.

The deadline has now been brought back to October 2015 for all species except blue sharks due to an overwhelming public response.

Around 45 000 submissions were received on the proposal.

This was likely to cause some controversy because blue sharks were one of the most vulnerable species to the finning practice.

Finning of live sharks was banned in 2009, but fishers are still able to cut fins off dead sharks and throw away the carcasses.

The new regime requires fishing companies to release sharks alive or bring them ashore with fins attached for processing.

New Zealand is among the world's top 20 exporters of shark fins, most of which are sent to Asia to be made into a popular delicacy or traditional medicines.

There are 113 species of shark in New Zealand waters, though it is mostly blue sharks that are finned after being caught in tuna long-lines.

Only seven species are completely protected under the Wildlife Act: great whites, basking shark, deep water nurse shark, spine-tailed devil ray, manta ray, whale shark, and oceanic whitetip shark.

- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald

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