The Green Party has called on the Government to put an end to shark finning in New Zealand waters.

Green's oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said New Zealand was lagging behind other countries in dealing with the practice of shark-finning.

Shark finning is the practice of killing a shark, cutting off its fins, and discarding the carcass back to sea - it is still legal in New Zealand, unlike in the United States, the European Union and Australia.

Mr Hughes estimates 73 million sharks are slaughtered annually for their fins alone.


"It's great that next year the whitetip shark will become fully protected under the Wildlife Act 1953, but the Government can help more sharks by stopping shark finning.

"Shark finning is like killing an elephant just for its tusk and is grossly wasteful."

The Green Party is calling on the Government to align New Zealand's shark finning policies with the United Nations recommendations and adopt a "fins naturally attached policy" requiring vessels to keep the whole shark rather than discarding carcasses at sea.

Mr Hughes said in New Zealand's Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery, many more sharks than tuna are caught as by-catch. These sharks are often finned and discarded.

"Adopting a 'fins naturally attached policy' would see a large number of blue sharks returned to the sea alive.

"Sharks are too precious to kill for their fins alone."

This year the Government is reviewing the national plan of action on sharks.