INDEPENDENT NEWS

National Plan of Action for Sharks

Published: Thu 23 Oct 2008 05:01 PM
National Plan of Action for Sharks
Sharks are vulnerable to over-fishing, and a new national plan of action will strengthen measures to conserve and manage them, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton says.
The plan was released today. Actions in the plan of action include:
• Ensuring fishers know live finning is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act. A reporting protocol will be established to ensure that any observed instances of live finning are reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
• Protecting the basking shark. New Zealand has an obligation to provide protection for this species in New Zealand waters and from New Zealand vessels fishing on the High Seas.
• A new 'prohibited utilisation process standard' that will ban utilisation of some species where no level of utilisation at all is sustainable.
Jim Anderton says the plan is a commitment to achieving shark conservation and sustainable use.
It meets New Zealand's international obligations under the UNFAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks).
"New Zealand has a world class fisheries management system. Sharks are vulnerable to over fishing and so the plan sets out how we are going to have stronger conservation and management of the 112 shark species found in New Zealand.
"For example, the practice of live finning sharks is disgusting and already illegal. New Zealanders want to make sure it doesn't happen here. The plan sets out how the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the agency responsible for animal welfare, will work together to ensure sharks are not live finned in New Zealand.
For more information on the National Plan of Action for Sharks visit www.fish.govt.nz.
Background
ACTIONS OUTLINED IN THE NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION FOR SHARKS
Actions to eliminate live shark finning:
• Ensure fishers are aware that live finning of sharks constitutes ill-treatment and is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act
The Ministry of Fisheries will ensure that the cruelty aspect of live finning is articulated clearly to fishers operating in fisheries where shark finning takes place.
• Establish reporting protocol to enforce the Animal Welfare Act
A reporting protocol will be established to ensure that any observed instances of live finning are reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
Actions to ensure appropriate management of threatened and endangered species
• Protect Basking Shark
As basking shark is listed on Appendix 1 of CMS, New Zealand has an obligation to provide protection for this species in New Zealand waters and from New Zealand vessels fishing on the High Seas.
• Develop and implement a prohibited utilisation process standard
The standard will be used to identify marine species where no level of utilisation is considered to be sustainable.
Actions to review shark management
• Review Schedule Six provisions in relation to spiny dogfish
The Ministry of Fisheries will review the Schedule six provisions currently in place for spiny dogfish to ensure that they are appropriate.
• Review listing other shark species, or specific life stages of other shark species, on Schedule Six
The Ministry of Fisheries will review the use of Schedule six provisions to allow the live release of additional shark species, or specific life stages of other shark species.
• Review and revision of NPOA
A full review and revision of the NPOA-Sharks will be undertaken.
Actions to improve information
• Strengthen existing research and monitoring programme
The strengthened programme will address:
Stock status and sustainable yields for exploited shark stocks; effectiveness of conversion factors in achieving accurate greenweight; monitoring of wastage in shark fisheries; assessment of measures to promote improved utilisation; identification of areas of habitat of particular significance to shark species (e.g. spawning, pupping and nursery grounds); and review research and monitoring outputs to assess the effectiveness of shark management.
• Reduce use of generic shark reporting codes
Reduce the percentage of the total commercial shark catch recorded against generic codes to below 1%.
• Produce a field identification guide
Production of a draft field identification guide for all QMS and other fish species (including sharks) commonly caught in commercial and non-commercial fisheries.
Actions to meet international obligations
• Participate in relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and other relevant international fora
Actively participate in the management and research of shark species which are managed through RFMOs of which New Zealand is a member; actively participate in other international fora engaged in the conservation and management of sharks; and support initiatives by other organisations/agencies to collect information on the distribution and abundance of shark species.
ENDS

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