Kirsty Johnston is an investigative reporter at the New Zealand Herald.

Shark carcasses left to rot on popular Auckland beach after becoming entangled in set-net

The bodies of the sharks lie rotting on Hatfield Beach. Photo / Supplied
The bodies of the sharks lie rotting on Hatfield Beach. Photo / Supplied

The bodies of three huge sharks and a stingray were dumped on a popular Auckland beach after the creatures became entangled and died in a set-net during a storm.

The sharks, believed to be bronze whalers, and the stingray were found lying on Hatfield Beach north of Orewa this morning.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous because of the ongoing battles around the controversial set-nets in the area, said he had watched a group of people drag in the tangled nylon web this morning.

The sharks are believed to be bronze whalers. Photo / Supplied
The sharks are believed to be bronze whalers. Photo / Supplied

"It just looked like a thick rope. It was too heavy for just two of them so a couple more people had to come down," he said.

"Clearly the net had been dragged along the beach in the storm and tangled the sharks and stingray on the way."

The man said the group had tried to push the massive fish back into the water, but the rain and wind and large seas pushed them back, so they left their unwanted catch on the beach.

"It's really sad. It was hard to say if they were still alive when they came in, but by the time we got down there they were certainly all dead, the people had just left them in the shallows," he said.

A local resident said the dumping is "really sad".
A local resident said the dumping is "really sad".

"I don't have a beef against the set-nets in general, but I do have a problem with just leaving them there to rot and stink."

Hatfields is one of a number of beaches north of Auckland where the community has requested for set-nets to be banned, but it was turned down by the council last year.

Opponents say the nets, which are placed in the water with anchors or weights and surface floats, cause safety issues for other beach users such as swimmers and boaties.

Under the Public Safety & Nuisance bylaw Council can impose restrictions on the practice, where evidence exists of a threat to public safety and/or nuisance.

The practice was banned at nearby Army Bay and Te Haruhi Bay in Shakespear Regional Park in 2014, and the ban will now continue each year.

However Omaha, Hatfields Beach and Browns Bay were not successful in their requests for a ban.

Instead the council is monitoring set netting at Hatfields and Matakana, until March. A separate ban in Arkles Bay will come up for review this year.

Residents who wish to comment or voice concerns about set-netting activities that are causing a nuisance in those areas can contact Auckland Council by email on setnet@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

Rules apply to set-netting.

If you want to set nets in New Zealand, you need to comply with the following set-net restrictions and requirements:

• Nets must not be baited.

• Nets must not exceed 60 metres in length.

• Nets must not be set within 60 metres of another net.

• Each end of a set net must have a surface float marked permanently and legibly with the fisher's initials and surname (only one float is required for fyke nets).

• Nets must not be used in a way that causes fish to be stranded by the falling tide.

• Only one set net (maximum 60 metres) and one bait net (maximum 10 metres with a mesh size of 50mm or less) can be carried on a boat at any one time.

• The use of stakes to secure nets is prohibited.

• No person may set or possess more than one set net.

• Nets used either individually or jointly must not extend across more than one-quarter the width of any river, stream, channel, bay, or sound.


Some areas are restricted from set netting

You cannot set nets in:

• Marine reserves

• Marine mammal sanctuaries

• Set-net banned areas

• Areas protected under the Conservation Act.

- NZ Herald

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