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NZ among top shark-killing nations - report

Published: 11:33AM Wednesday July 31, 2013 Source: Faifax

  • A Sand Tiger Shark (Source: Supplied)
    A Sand Tiger Shark - Source: Supplied

New Zealand is among the world's top 10 nations for killing and exporting sharks, including several species being considered for global protection.

The revelation is made in a report to the European Commission by world wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Made up of the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it works with the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which sets protection standards.

The latest report looks at the trade in commercially valuable sharks and manta rays that are being considered for Cites protection.

The report says that between 2000 and 2009, 708,838 tonnes of fresh and frozen shark meat was traded, with New Zealand the 10th-largest exporter at 21,496 tonnes.

Spain topped the list at 123,848 tonnes, followed by Taiwan, Panama, Uruguay, Costa Rica and the United States.

Some of the nations appear to be importing unprocessed shark and re-exporting.

New Zealand is the world's fourth-largest exporter of non-fin, non-meat shark products, mostly liver oil and skins, behind Taiwan, Chile and Spain.

CITES is considering protection for the Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), porbeagle or mackerel shark (Lamna nasus), several hammerhead species and manta rays.

The top 20 shark catchers between 2002 and 2011 were responsible for nearly 80% of the reported global catch in these species.

Indonesia and India were responsible for over 20 per cent of global shark catches between 2002 and 2011.

Oceanic whitetip, which is caught in New Zealand's northern exclusive economic zone, is a preferred species in many fin markets, including Hong Kong.

"Demand from the international fin market is considered to be the primary force driving retention of bycatch of this species," TRAFFIC says.

The livers are sometimes harvested for oil, and the skin used as leather.

In New Zealand, porbeagle is mainly taken as a bycatch in long-line fisheries for tuna and swordfish.

Porbeagle fins are less valued than others.

"However, porbeagle fins are still exported from New Zealand to Hong Kong and also from Norway to Asian markets as byproducts of meat processing," TRAFFIC says.

New Zealand is the world's fifth-largest catcher of porbeagle, behind Indonesia, France, Canada and Spain.