1 April, 2007
Full protection for great white sharks starts today
White pointer sharks will now be fully protected within the 200 nautical miles of water around New Zealand, and from fishing by New Zealand-flagged boats further afield, the Ministers of Conservation and Fisheries announced today.
Conservation Minister Chris Carter said despite the white pointer's reputation as a predator, it was vulnerable to fishing and becoming rarer throughout the world.
"These majestic animals occur naturally in low numbers and, without protection, could be pushed to the brink of extinction. The Wildlife Act provides a strong deterrent against targeting great whites with a $250,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment as a maximum penalty."
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the white pointer shark was not known to be targeted by commercial fishers but was occasionally taken as by-catch. "However, recreational fishers do occasionally target them because there is some demand for jaws and teeth as fishing trophies.
"No one wants to see an animal hunted to extinction for the sake of a jaw or a few teeth, or to be placed under pressure by accidental catch. Under these new regulations no fisher will be able to profit from taking a white pointer, and any fisher inadvertently catching one will have to return it to the sea, intact, and alive, if possible," Jim Anderton said.
However, it is still legal to use shark nets to protect swimmers around beaches in Dunedin, and fishers accidentally catching and killing white pointers will not be prosecuted, provided they register the death with authorities.
The Wildlife Act makes it illegal to hunt, kill or harm a white pointer shark within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ - 200 nautical mile limit around New Zealand). It will also be illegal in New Zealand to possess or trade in any part of a white pointer shark. As well, New Zealand is a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and has an obligation to prohibit the taking of white pointer sharks.
The species will be further protected on the high seas by the Fisheries Act, under which New Zealand-flagged boats will be prohibited from taking white pointer sharks while fishing outside the EEZ.