Labour wants to add the great white shark to the list of endangered species, which would protect them against big game fishermen.
Conservation Minister Chris Carter, announcing Labour's conservation policy yesterday, said the great white was an endangered species.
Canada, the United States, South Africa and Australia protected the great white, but New Zealand was lagging behind and they needed protecting in this country's waters as well.
The great white has been blamed for a string of fatal attacks on people in Australian waters in recent years.
But Mr Carter said they were "very endangered" and extending the Wildlife Act's protection to them as a vulnerable species would mean big game fishermen could not hunt them.
"I know people are very averse to large sharks that could eat people, but then we protect tigers which could do the same.
"I think every species on earth has an intrinsic value as something that is unique, and it would be a shame to see them become extinct."
Mr Carter said great whites were very migratory, had great range and even travelled into tropical waters.
In early April a team of international and New Zealand scientists at the Chatham Islands tagged a 4m adult female named Tessa.
She then travelled more than 1000km north - when the team fully expected her to travel south or southwest. Great whites are considered cold-water sharks, so her route towards the tropics was surprising, the Department of Conservation said in July.
Mr Carter said the Government also wanted to set up a new network of parks and reserves in the South Island high country.