Fisheries Infosite

Environmental Issue

 Surface longline - Live shark fin removal

Cutting the fins off live sharks is an animal welfare issue.
Current global information suggests many shark populations are considered threatened or endangered. 
Extent of the issue
Shark catch that is still alive when bought onboard a fishing vessel is nearly all taken in the surface longline fishery.
This issue has been eliminated in the joint venture tuna fleet (these vessels have very high observer coverage). Low observer coverage in the domestic longline fleet means we know little about the extent of the issue in this fleet.
Current management
It is illegal to cut the fins off a live shark - sharks must be humanely killed before their fins can be taken. A code of practice (COP) has been developed by Industry which specifies, amongst other things, that sharks must be killed humanely before processing. The COP describes how to humanely kill sharks.
Future management
New Zealand's National Plan of Action (NPoA) for sharks contains specific measures to ensure fishers know live finning is an offence. The NPoA says 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). 
Documents / links