Shark finning in New Zealand will continue until onboard cameras are compulsory

New Zealand exported 13.5 tonnes of shark fins last year. While it became illegal to remove fins at sea from sharks caught in New Zealand waters and discard their bodies into the ocean in 2014, it remains legal for sharks to be finned onshore and the fins sold to foreign markets. The fins must still be attached to the shark’s body when it is brought ashore. Fins taken from shark bycatch can also be sold.

SAFE Campaigns Manager Bianka Atlas says it’s a “disgrace that shark finning is still occurring in our waters”.

Last year the Government announced it would spend $40 million to $60 million to roll out cameras on commercial fishing vessels, with the goal of 345 cameras installed by the end of 2024.

This would account for about 84 percent of the inshore fleet. But this is only a tiny fraction of New Zealand’s full commercial fishing fleet, which is made up of 1500 registered vessels.

“Because of this inconsistent monitoring, we don’t know how pervasive shark finning is in New Zealand waters or whether sharks are caught legally. And this is likely to continue without compulsory onboard cameras,” say Atlas.

“We urge the Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker to ensure cameras and observers are installed on all commercial fishing boats without delay.”