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Kate Wilkinson

27 September, 2012

Endangered whitetip sharks to be protected

Oceanic whitetip sharks are to get the same status as the great white shark, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced today.

International research show the species is facing high risk of extinction.

From early 2013 they will become fully protected under the Wildlife Act 1953, giving them the same protected status as great white shark and basking shark in New Zealand fisheries waters.

“Shark species like whitetips are now being recognised and protected as an important part of our marine ecosystems,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“New Zealand and the international community are taking steps to protect the future of these magnificent animals.”

Under the proposed changes, deliberate taking of whitetip sharks in New Zealand fisheries waters will become unlawful.

Reporting of accidental captures of the sharks during fishing operations will be mandatory, with fines up to $10,000 possible for non-reporting. Deliberate taking of whitetip sharks in New Zealand fisheries waters will become unlawful and be punishable with a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of a maximum term of 6 months.

The Department of Conservation is also working with the Ministry for Primary Industries who have proposed protection measures under the Fisheries Act 1996 to prohibit take of the species by New Zealand vessels in the high seas.

Whitetip sharks have been recorded near the Kermadec Islands and off the northeast coast of North Island south to Mahia Peninsula.