Fisheries Infosite


The issue

About 113 species of shark have been recorded in New Zealand waters. Of these, more than 70 species are caught by fishers.

Because sharks are generally near the top of the food chain, they are less abundant than many species further down the chain. As well as this, sharks mature late, grow slowly and produce only a small number of young at a time, so they have a much lower reproduction rate than many other fish.

Internationally, these features have put sharks at risk of over-fishing. Shark conservation and management issues, including shark finning, are a focus of growing international and local attention, which is reflected in New Zealand’s updated National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) 2013.

Current and future management

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has set up an International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks), with the aim of ensuring the long-term sustainability of these species.

As a member nation of the FAO, New Zealand is expected to establish an NPOA-Sharks, and to regularly review this plan. New Zealand adopted its first NPOA-Sharks in 2008, and reviewed its implementation in 2012.

The review highlighted that New Zealand has strong systems in place to conserve and manage sharks, including a number of fully protected shark species, and the majority (90%) of commercial catches managed under a quota management system with catch limits and robust reporting and monitoring systems. However, opportunities for improvements were also identified, including in relation to improving the utilisation of shark species that are caught. In accordance with the goals of the NPOA-Sharks 2013, a ban on shark finning will be implemented in New Zealand from 1 October 2014.

MPI, the Department of Conservation , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade , and industry and environment stakeholders have worked together to produce an updated NPOA-Sharks 2013 . MPI would like to thank all those involved for their constructive input. 

National Plan of Action for conservation and management of Sharks 2013 PDF | 709kb

Additional documents are also available to provide context to the NPOA-Sharks 2013, including:

Review of progress against actions identified in the New Zealand NPOA-Sharks 2008 PDF | 523kb
Summary of research and monitoring on New Zealand sharks, skates, rays and chimeras undertaken in the period 2008-2012 PDF | 184kb
NPOA-Sharks 2008 PDF | 471 kb

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