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Vast Majority Of Kiwis Oppose Shark Finning

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

3 September 2008 - A total of 83 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed support a ban on shark finning, according to a Colmar Brunton poll for Forest & Bird.

Shark finning is cutting off the high-priced fins of sharks and dumping the rest of the body at sea.

Just 8 per cent of the 951 people surveyed last week disagreed with a ban, and 9 per cent didn't know or didn't care about a ban.

Forest & Bird is calling for an end to shark finning because it is contributing to the decline of shark species worldwide. The practice is illegal in many countries but it is still allowed in New Zealand waters.

High-profile chefs and food writers have signed Forest & Bird's pledge to help stop shark finning. They are food writer Simon Holst, restaurant reviewer Peter Calder, author and TV presenter Peta Mathias, food writer Julie Le Clerc, restaurateur and TV presenter Richard Till, and food writer Annabel Langbein.

"We are getting lots of support, including full backing from the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, which is also asking members and the public to sign the pledge," Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says.

More than 600 individual New Zealanders have signed the online pledge in the first week.

Labour is the only political party that does not support a requirement to land whole sharks rather than take only the fins, Forest & Bird found in its pre-election survey of conservation issues. "The pressure is mounting for the Government to ban this wasteful practice," Kirstie Knowles says.

"Forest & Bird is asking for a law change so sharks have to be landed whole. This would discourage the exploitation of shark populations."

Shark fins are highly valued because of increasing demand for their use in shark fin soup and traditional medicines.

About 112 species of sharks have been recorded in New Zealand waters. Of these, 28 are listed on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of species threatened with extinction. Only one threatened species - the great white shark - is protected in New Zealand.

Several countries, including Australia, USA, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Palau, Spain, Oman and the EU, have banned shark finning. It is illegal under New Zealand's animal welfare laws to fin sharks while the sharks are alive (though there is evidence that this still occurs) but it is legal to fin them once they are dead and dump the rest of the carcass.

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