Shocking and cruel shark finning at sea is still legal where you’d least expect it: New Zealand. Thankfully, key ministers have finally announced plans to overhaul these laws and potentially put a total ban in place. International public pressure is crucial to making it happen.

Together let’s show NZ’s leaders overwhelming public support to consign shark finning to the history books.

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Dear Fisheries Management, Ministry for Primary Industries,

Please consider this my submission on the National Plan of Action – Sharks

The current proposal put forward by the Ministers of Primary Industries and Conservation is a step in the right direction, but still falls short of the conservation need and public support for an immediate ban on shark finning in New Zealand waters.

In New Zealand it is still legal to kill a shark just for its fins and dump its body back into the ocean. This is a wasteful and destructive practice, the very opposite of sustainable fishing.

Beyond New Zealand waters shark finning is banned throughout much of the Pacific and many small Pacific Island countries have gone so far as to designate their entire waters as shark sanctuaries. New Zealand is letting down regional and international conservation efforts to protect sharks by allowing shark finning to continue in our waters, and by refusing to sign up to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species agreement on sharks.

New Zealand is lagging behind international best practice, and trailing almost one third of countries and states that have already banned shark finning. New Zealand is one of the top ten nations in the world for shark finning and exporting, undermining our efforts to live up to a clean, green reputation. The country recently became the biggest exporter of dried shark fins to the United States. These are not achievements to be proud of.

The United Nations has advised countries to ban shark finning and require that all sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached, but the New Zealand Government is proposing to delay implementation of a ban so that sharks could still be finned and dumped for the next three years, despite mounting international and domestic pressure and declining shark populations globally.

Sharks play a pivotal role in the marine ecosystem because of their position at the top of the food chain. The three most commonly finned sharks in New Zealand (blue, porbeagle and shortfin mako sharks) are all listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Allowing these species to be caught and killed for their fins alone is incredibly irresponsible and wasteful.

I call on the New Zealand Government to immediately implement a ban on shark finning within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone which, in line with international best practice, requires that sharks are either returned to the water or landed with their fins naturally attached.

I also urge the New Zealand Government to sign the United Nations CMS Memorandum of Understanding on Sharks, and implement its advice in full.

These steps are just part of what is needed to properly conserve sharks. Through the NPOA – Sharks the Government must also ensure that there is better management of sharks, by completing stock assessments, and that sharks which are caught are treated respectfully, not dumped or wasted. Where possible, sharks that are caught accidentally should be released back into the water without harm.

I urge the Ministers of Primary Industries and Conservation to make a decision that allows us to be proud of the way New Zealand protects sharks, not one which sees New Zealand falling further behind its Pacific neighbours and the international community.

Now it’s time to ban shark finning in New Zealand.