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M.P. Francis1 and B. Shallard2

1National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 14901, Wellington, New Zealand.
2Bruce Shallard and Associates, P.O. Box 27409, Wellington, New Zealand.


1.1  Species composition of fishery

Ninety-five species of chondrichthyans have been recorded from New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including 61 sharks, 21 skates and rays, and 13 chimaeras (Cox and Francis 1997). As in most parts of the world (Bonfil 1994), chondrichthyans do not comprise a large proportion of the New Zealand fish catch. Nevertheless, more than 30 species of chondrichthyans (hereafter referred to as “sharks”) are caught by commercial and recreational fishers in New Zealand waters.

Commercial shark landings during the last decade have been dominated by six species (or species groups): spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), school shark (Galeorhinus galeus), rough and smooth skate (Raja nasuta and R. innominata), ghost sharks (Hydrolagus novaezelandiae and Hydrolagus sp.), rig (Mustelus lenticulatus) and elephantfish (Callorhinchus milii). They contributed 89–96% of total reported shark landings during the period 1986–87 to 1996–97 (mean 92.6%; Table 1). Other less important species include blue shark (Prionace glauca), northern spiny dogfish (Squalus mitsukurii), mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), bronze whaler shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus), shovelnose dogfish (Deania Calcea), and porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) (Table 1).

Recreational fishers catch mainly spiny dogfish, school shark and rig (Bradford 1996, 1997, Annala and Sullivan 1997, Teirney et al. 1997). Other species caught include elephantfish, blue shark, mako shark, hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena), bronze whaler shark, stingrays (Dasyatis brevicaudata and D. thetidis) and eagle ray (Myliobatis tenuicaudatus).

Three shark species are managed under the Quota Management System (QMS): school shark, rig and elephantfish. Each species is sub-divided into a number of management units called Fishstocks. The geographical boundaries of each Fishstock are based on the 10 Quota Management Areas (QMAs), shown in Figure 1, and each Fishstock may consist of one or more QMAs. Commercial landings statistics are reported by Fishstock (Annala and Sullivan 1997). Fishing effort and shark catches are negligible in QMA 10 around the Kermadec Islands (Annala and Sullivan 1997) and are not considered further in this report.

Spiny dogfish occur on the continental shelf and upper continental slope throughout mainland New Zealand (North and South Islands) and on the Chatham Rise and Campbell Plateau, but are most abundant around South Islands. Most commercial landings are taken from QMAs 3–7 (Hanchet and Ingerson 1997). School shark have a similar range, but they also occur in oceanic waters, and tagged sharks have crossed the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia in both directions (Hurst et al. in prep.). School shark are common throughout mainland New Zealand and commercial landings are high in most areas (QMAs 1–3, 5, 7–9) (Annala and Sullivan 1997).

Table 1

New Zealand shark landings for the period 1986–87 to 1996–97
Species codeCommon nameScientific nameFishing year (October-September) landings (t)
SPDSpiny dogfishSqualus acanthias26084823358932736316379547737214542662304887
SCHSchool sharkGaleorhinus galeus19462367230923772215250828392603258333873134
SKA, SSK, RSKRough skate, smooth skateRaja nasuta, R. innominata10191725151317691820262029512997279027922479
GSHGhost sharksHydrolagus novaezealandiae, Hydrolagus sp.8118986049031762126413541591227321921975
SPORigMustelus lenticulatus10911395151315141467177016501619176918481883
ELEElephantfishCallorhinchus milii584610543510553597606568684862912
OSD, SHAUnidentified sharks-283696997234180274256467506629
BSHSeal sharkDalatias licha190379203104141183231304372282327
BWSBlue sharkPrionace glauca384115531333118140166303
NSDNorthern spiny dogfishSqualus mitsukurii-1021448144531061031318685
MAKMako sharkIsurus oxyrinchus212091521162950696655
POSPorbeagleLamna nasus--3511713102352
DWDDeepwater dogfish-92841611435421432
BWHBronze whalerCarcharhinus brachyurus1924201723163533325129
THRThresher sharkAlopias vulpinus11071217111314171622
SNDShovelnose dogfishDeania calcea1641671011990166214421
BSKBasking sharkCetorhinus maximus--10411-33911221
HHSHammerhead sharkSphyrna zygaena5131010812121612133
LCHLongnose spookfishHarriotta raleighana----5003573
WRA, BRA, STR, RAYShorttail & longtail stingraysDasyatis brevicaudata, D. thetidis71161171378382
SEVBroadnose sevengill sharkNotorynchus cepedianus264251242422
-Other minor species-----4011211
CARCarpet sharkCephaloscyllium isabellum05403088174255900
EGREagle rayMyliobatis tenuicaudatus003061791000
Total  888113284110371100314727130781495017562169121861016870

Sources: School shark, rig and elephantfish - Quota Monitoring Reports; other species - Lincensed Fish Receiver Reports. Spiny dogfish totals include discards reported in CELR and CLR forms, except for 1995–96 and 1996–97. Data for 1996–97 are provisional. Species are arranged in descending order of 1996–97 landings. 0 = less than 0.5 t, - = no recorded landings.

Figure 1

Map of New Zealand showing the Exclusive Economic Zone and Quota Management Areas

Figure 1

1.2   Distribution of fishery

Rough and smooth skates occur on the continental shelf and upper continental slope throughout mainland New Zealand and on the Chatham Rise and Campbell Plateau, but are most common around the South Island. Most landings come from QMAs 3–7 (Francis 1997). Ghost sharks occur on the upper continental slope throughout mainland New Zealand and on the Chatham Rise and Campbell Plateau, but are uncommon around the North Island. Most landings come from QMAs 3–7 (Horn 1997).

Rig inhabit coastal and shelf waters, and range from the subtropical Kermadec Islands to the southern limit of QMA 5, but they do not occur on the Campbell Plateau or on the Chatham Rise. They are common around the mainland of New Zealand and commercial landings are high in many areas (QMAs 1, 3, 5, 7–9) (Annala and Sullivan 1997). Elephantfish are mainly restricted to the continental shelf around the South Island and range as far north as 37 oS on the east coast of North Island. Most landings come from QMA 3 (Annala and Sullivan 1997).

Blue, mako and porbeagle sharks are pelagic and oceanic, although they come close inshore in places. All three species occur throughout the EEZ. Hammerhead and bronze whaler sharks are mainly restricted to warmer waters around the North Island.

1.3  Associated species as bycatch or discards

New Zealand has small, but regionally important, set net or longline target fisheries for school shark, rig and elephantfish. Spiny dogfish constitute an important bycatch in these fisheries and they are frequently discarded because the catch usually exceeds the market demand. Other species caught by these fisheries are usually saleable teleosts.

Rig, school shark and elephantfish are also caught over the continental shelf by bottom trawlers that target demersal teleosts, especially fiatfish (Rhombosolea, Pelotretis and Peltorhamphus species), red cod (Pseudophycis bachus), red grunard (Chelidonichthys kumu), tarakihi (Nemadactylus macropterus) and snapper (Pagrus auratus). Spiny dogfish, skates and ghost sharks are caught mainly as bycatch of bottom trawl fisheries. Most spiny dogfish are caught by vessels targeting jack mackerel (Trachurus spp.), barracouta (Thyrsites atun), hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae), red cod, arrow squid (Nototodarus spp.), tarakihi and red gurnard (Hanchet and Ingerson 1997). Rough and smooth skates are taken mainly as bycatch of flatfish, red cod and barracouta fisheries (Francis 1997) and ghost sharks as bycatch of hoki, barracouta, arrow squid and silver warehou (Seriolella punctata) fisheries (Horn 1997). Blue, porbeagle and mako sharks are caught as bycatch on longlines set in oceanic waters for southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii), albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) and bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).

1.4  Discussion

The species composition of the commercial shark catch has changed substantially over the last few decades. Before 1980, elephantfish, rig and school shark were the only species that were sold commercially (see Section 2.2). Restrictions were imposed on the catch of these species when the QMS was introduced in 1986 and alternative species were sought. Simultaneously, fish processors actively promoted shark products in export markets. This led to a rapid increase in the quantities of spiny dogfish, ghost sharks and skates being landed. Other less desirable species were also landed in increasing quantities during the late 1980s and the 1990s.


2.1   Traditional Maori fisheries

Sharks were an important source of food and oil for early Maori. In the 19th century, coastal villages and fishing camps were occupied by large numbers of Maori, particularly during summer months, for the specific purpose of shark fishing. Large wooden multi-tier frames, sometimes exceeding 400m in length, were set up for drying shark carcasses, which were left in the sun for a month or more (Hamilton 1908, Matthews 1910). Several early Europeans noted that shark-drying racks were used in many parts of North Island, and that fishing villages could be smelt from a distance of up to 13km, indicating that the activity was widespread and of large scale (Taylor 1855, Hamilton 1908, Matthews 1910). Shark livers were placed in leaf funnels and compressed with heated stones to extract oil, which was used to anoint human bones, and make paint and cosmetics (Matthews 1910).

Matthews (1910) gave a detailed account of a Maori shark fishing expedition in Rangaunu Bay, northern North Island, in January 1855. About 50 canoes of varying sizes, and about 1000 Maori were involved in night-time fishing with baited hooks. During two nights of fishing, about 7000 kapetaa were caught. Although kapetaa was the name given to rig by northern Maori tribes (Strickland 1990), other authors have suggested that the catch was of school shark (Keene 1963, Paul 1988). Regardless of the identity of the sharks, both school shark and rig were readily accessible to Maori and were important food fish. Northern spiny dogfish (koinga) were also caught in quantity by early northern Maori, and their flesh and oil were considered superior to those of kapetaa (Matthews 1910). Archaeological evidence from Maori middens suggests that several other sharks were eaten by Maori, including spiny dogfish, elephantfish, eagle rays and stingrays.

Mako, bronze whaler, great white (Carcharodon carcharias) and tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) sharks were occasionally caught. Mako, and to a lesser extent white, tiger and sevengill (Notorynchus cepedianus) sharks, were prized for their teeth, which were used to make earrings, necklaces and cutting tools (Colenso 1892, Cox and Francis 1997). When fishing for makos, Maori used chumbait to attract a shark and then caught it with a noose passed over the head or tail. They never used hooks, in order to avoid damaging the teeth (Colenso 1892, Hamilton 1908, Matthews 1910).

Large scale Maori shark fishing expeditions, and the practice of drying shark flesh for winter use, appear to have died out during the late 19th century (Matthews 1910). Small traditional Maori shark fisheries still operate in the major harbours of northern North Island, and possibly elsewhere, but there are no data on the amount of sharks caught by them.

2.2   Commercial fisheries

2.2.1  Overview

Commercial shark landing data have been compiled by calendar year up to 1984, and by fishing year (1 October —30 September) from 1985–86 onwards. A detailed description of data sources and periods of coverage is provided by Francis (in press).

Total reported shark landings were usually less than 5000t/yr before 1980 (Figure 2) and consisted mostly of elephantfish, rig and school shark. Landings increased rapidly during the early 1980s to peak at 14 500t in 1984, mainly as a result of the expansion of the school shark and spiny dogfish fisheries. Landings then declined to 8900t in 1986–87 before climbing steadily again to peak at 17 000–19 000t from 1993–94 to 1996–97 (Figure 2, Table 1).

2.2.2  School shark (Galeorhinus galeus) (Figure 3)

(Mabbett 1977, Seabrook-Davison et al. 1985, Paul 1988, Annala and Sullivan 1997, L.J. Paul, NIWA, pers. comm.)

In the early 1900s, several attempts were made to start a commercial school shark fishery in northern New Zealand (QMAs 1 and 9). A shark processing factory operated for several years around 1900–1902 at Sandspit, Kawau Bay, about 60km north of Auckland. Liver oil was used to produce a calf food additive and the carcasses were used as farm fertiliser, but the factory soon closed because sharks were not available year round and the finished products had low value. There is no information on the amount of sharks caught during this period.

Figure 2

Total reported commercial shark landings (calendar years up to 1984, fishing years thereafter)

Figure 2

Landings probably remained low until the early 1940s when imports of halibut and cod liver oil were interrupted by World War II. School shark livers (and livers from other fish species) were found to be rich in vitamin A, and liver processing factories were established in Auckland in 1942 and Wellington in 1943. Large numbers of school sharks were caught, but because only the livers were retained, the amount caught was not recorded. Crude estimates based on the quantity of livers processed suggest a peak annual catch of about 2500t. This fishery lasted until the early 1950s when the production of synthetic vitamin A dramatically reduced the price paid for shark livers and the fishery collapsed.

In the late 1950s an export market for school shark flesh developed in Australia and landings increased again to 300–600t/yr between 1957 and 1971. In December 1971, Australia banned the importation of fish containing more than 0.5 ppm of mercury. New Zealand school shark often exceeded that limit, and imports were banned in 1972, leading to another decline in landings. Some fishers began selling school shark as rig to circumvent the ban and landings data became unreliable for several years (separate landings statistics are not available for the two species in 1973). Reported landings fluctuated between 1975 and 1979, possibly because of variable separation of school shark and rig, and variations in the amount of fish that could be sold both domestically and in Australia.

Up to 1979, most school shark were caught by target handlines and longlines, with some bycatch (mostly juveniles) taken by trawlers. School shark were caught mainly in spring and summer when large sharks, particularly pregnant females, moved into shallow coastal waters. Between 1979 and 1984 annual school shark landings increased dramatically, from 500t to 5600t. This was due to the re-opening of Australian export markets, increased fishing effort resulting from the introduction of monofilament set nets, a decline in the abundance of other more valuable inshore fish species and the desire of fishers to establish school shark “catch histories” before the introduction of the QMS. In the early and mid 1980s, school shark were caught throughout New Zealand (QMAs 1–9). Set nets accounted for around 50% of the landings, with the remainder being taken by longlines (33%) and as trawl bycatch (15%), though the importance of the three methods varied regionally. the strong seasonal pattern of catches was maintained, again with regional variation. Since 1986–87, school shark have continued to be caught throughout New Zealand by a mixture of fishing methods. No recent analyses have been made of the proportion of the landings taken by method or season.

Figure 3

Commercial landings of elephantfish, rig and school shark (calendar years up to 1984, fishing years thereafter). Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACC) are also shown for each species from the introduction of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) in October 1986 (arrow)

Figure 3

In October 1986, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the whole EEZ was set at 2590t, which was 56% of the average annual landings for the previous three years. Landings in the first year of the QMS (1986–87) fell well below the TACC, mainly because fishers took time to adjust to the new fisheries management regime, and develop strategies for fishing, leasing or selling their Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs). Appeals by fishers to the Quota Appeal Authority resulted in the allocation of additional quota to some fishers, leading to an increase in the total TACC to 3107t by 1995–96. Landings generally followed the TACC upwards, and exceeded the total TACC for the first time in 1995–96.

2.2.3  Elephantfish (Callorhinchus milii) (Figure 3)

(Graham 1956, Gorman 1963, Coakley 1971, Sullivan 1981, McGregor et al. 1985, McClatchie and Lester 1994, Annala and Sullivan 1997)

Elephantfish were commercially traded in New Zealand at least as early as 1914, but quantities landed were not reported. Demand for elephantfish waned after World War I and during the period 1936–1948 only 100–270t were reported landed each year. Much of the elephantfish was sold for the “fish-and-chip” trade under the disguise of trade names such as silver fish and silver trumpeter. During the 1950s there was a steady increase in landings of elephantfish (about five-fold compared with the 1940s), resulting mainly from the development of an export market for fillets in Australia, and improvements in the palatability and shelf life of the product through the installation of freezers on many trawlers. Livers were in demand for oil extraction. In the period up to 1960, nearly all of the elephantfish landings came from trawlers operating along the east coast of South Island (QMA 3). Small quantities were also caught by vessels using cotton set-nets.

From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, demand for elephantfish flesh was high (but the sale of livers ceased), and catches remained stable. Target trawling for elephantfish spread to the southern South Island (QMA 5). The mean annual landing over the 19-year period 1956–1974 was 1075t. A dip in landings in 1967–1969 was caused by the temporary departure of a significant proportion of the trawl fleet to the Chatham Islands to participate in the lucrative rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) fishery. After the peak in 1971 annual landings declined slowly to 700–800t/yr in the early 1980s. This was despite an increase in target fishing for elephantfish (and rig) using monofilament set nets, particularly in QMA 3. As catch rates then declined it became more difficult for either trawlers or set netters to target elephantfish, which were then increasingly taken as bycatch of other fisheries.

Most of the elephantfish catch was taken during spring and early summer, when they aggregate in large schools in shallow coastal waters for mating and egg laying and can be targeted easily by trawlers. During the rest of the year, small quantities of elephantfish were caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries targeting other species out to the edge of the continental shelf.

At the start of the QMS, elephantfish were considered severely overfished and a conservative TACC of 470t (62% of the average landings in the three previous years) was introduced to promote stock rebuilding. The shortage of available quota led to many set net vessels leaving the fishery under a Government-funded buy-back scheme. This in turn led to a higher proportion of quota being held by trawlers to cover their elephantfish bycatch. The TACC was exceeded for the first two years of the QMS, and was increased to 619t in 1988–89. Elephantfish stocks appear to have rebuilt since 1986, and the TACC was increased again in 1995–96 to 715t. However, landings have significantly exceeded the TACC in QMA 3 since 1994–95.

Currently, 80–85% of the landings come from QMA 3. The remainder comes mainly from QMAs 5 and 7. The conservative TACC and the rebuilding of the stock have made it difficult for fishers to avoid catching elephantfish. There is now little target fishing of elephantfish, and most fishers catch their ITQ as bycatch from other fisheries. Most elephantfish are still caught during spring and summer, but the reduction in target fishing has caused the seasonal landings peak to become broader.

2.2.4  Rig (Mustelus lenticulatus) (Figure 3)

(Francis 1985, 1988, Francis and Smith 1988, Massey 1989, Annala and Sullivan 1997)

During the 1930s and 1940s, reported rig landings were less than 200t/yr. There was no demand for their flesh, though rig may have contributed, along with school shark, to the shark liver fishery during World War II. Landings increased steadily in the 1950s and 1960s to reach 900t in 1970. Most rig was sold under the disguise of various trade names, especially lemon fish. Rig were caught throughout New Zealand, with more than 80% being taken as bycatch of trawl fisheries.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, rig landings rose rapidly to peak at 3800t in 1983. This dramatic increase was caused by increased demand in New Zealand and Australia (the latter was stimulated by the Australian ban on school shark containing high mercury levels), increased effort arising from the introducition of monofilament set nets and reduced availability of other prime inshore fish species. The change from a trawl bycatch fishery to a target set net fishery was so complete that by the early 1980s more than 80% of the landings came from set nets. In the early 1980s, important fisheries for rig occurred in QMAs 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9. Most rig were caught in shallow coastal waters, including large harbours, during their annual spring-summer inshore migration.

Declining catches and catch rates, and high exploitation rates, indicated that rig stocks were overfished in several QMAs. When the QMS was introduced, the TACC was set conservatively (41% of the average landings in the three previous years) to promote stock rebuilding. Many set net vessels left the fishery under the buy-back scheme, leading to a higher proportion of the quota being held by trawlers to cover their rig bycatch. The TACC increased steadily up to 1990–91 as a result of appeals by fishers to the Quota Appeal Authority. In 1991–92, the TACC was increased by 20% because of anecdotal evidence that rig stocks had at least partially recovered. The TACC reached 2099t in 1995– 96. Landings have generally followed the TACC upwards.

Set nets currently account for more than 60% of the rig landings; the exact amount is unknown because method of capture is not reported for all landings. Target set-net fisheries occur in most QMAs, and landings are still concentrated in the spring-summer period.

2.2.5  Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) (Figure 4)

(Hanchet 1986, Annala and Sullivan 1997, Hanchet and Ingerson 1997)

Large numbers of spiny dogfish are caught around southern New Zealand as bycatch by trawlers and to a lesser extent set netters and longliners. Before 1980–81 spiny dogfish had low commercial value (though unknown quantities were probably processed for liver oil during World War II), and were usually discarded at sea. Small quantities may have been landed and reported as rig. There is no information on quantities caught before 1980–81.

In the early 1980s, foreign fishing vessels processed some of the spiny dogfish they caught in New Zealand waters and export markets for domestic landings developed in Korea and Europe. Most landings came from trawlers working in QMAs 5 and 6. In the late 1980s and the 1990s landings generally increased, but fluctuated wildly because of variable access to the Korean market and variations in availability and the amount of effort directed at target species. The peak landing of 7214t was recorded in 1993–94. Currently, spiny dogfish are taken throughout the year as bycatch of trawl fisheries in QMAs 3, 5, 6 and 7.

Some spiny dogfish discards have been reported, and they amounted to 500–600t/yr in recent years, apart from a peak of 1063t in 1993–94. These amounts were included in the spiny dogfish landings presented in this report. However, large amounts of discarded spiny dogfish are probably unreported.

Figure 4

Commercial landings of spiny dogfish, skates and ghost sharks (calendar years up to 1984, fishing years thereafter)

Figure 4

Total competitive quotas have applied to spiny dogfish landings in QMA 3 (4075t) and QMAs 5 and 6 (3600t) since 1992–93. These quotas were introduced because of concerns that fishers would transfer their fishing effort from QMS species, many of which had TACCs set well below recent landing levels, to non-QMS species. Based on reported landings, the spiny dogfish quotas have not been reached since they were introduced.

2.2.6  Rough skate (Raja nasuta) and smooth skate (R. innominata) (Figure 4) (Francis 1997)

Many fishers and processors do not distinguish the two species in their landing returns and code them instead as “skates”. Because it is impossible to determine the species composition of the catch from landings data, all skates are combined in the data reported here.

Skate landings were negligible up to 1978 because of a lack of suitable markets and the availability of other more abundant and desirable species. Export markets for skates then developed in Europe, especially France. Landings increased linearly to reach 3000t in 1992–93 and 1993–94, and then declined slightly to 2800t in 1994–95 and 1995–96.

Skates are taken mainly as bycatch of bottom trawl fisheries, but there is also a small longline bycatch. In 1989–90, QMA 3 accounted for 80% of the total landings, but this has since declined to about 60%. Most of the remainder came from QMAs 5, 6, and 7. Skates are caught year-round, with peaks occurring in spring-early summer in recent years. Monthly variations probably reflect variations in effort directed at the target species.

A competitive quota of 900t was introduced for QMA 3 in 1991–92. The quota technically applies to all species of skates and rays, but only rough and smooth skates are caught in significant quantities in QMA 3. Skate landings have exceeded the quota every year since it was introduced, by 53–103%.

2.2.7   Dark ghost shark (Hydrolagus novaezealandiae) and pale ghost shark (Hydrolagus sp.) (Figure 4) (Horn 1997)

Fishers and processors do not distinguish the two species in their landing returns and all ghost sharks are combined in the data reported here. Dark ghost shark are most abundant in depths of 150–700m and pale ghost shark are most abundant in 400–1000m. Based on the depth and spatial distribution of commercial catches it has been estimated that dark ghost shark comprised about 75% of total ghost shark landings.

Ghost shark landings have followed a similar trajectory to that of skates. Landings were negligible up to 1978 because of a lack of suitable markets and the availability of other more abundant and desirable species. The development of an export market in Japan stimulated a steady increase in landings, which peaked at 2200–2300t in 1994–96.

Ghost sharks are taken almost entirely as bycatch of bottom trawl fisheries. Most landings have come from QMA 3, although QMA 7 was almost as important in 1994–96. Significant landings also come from QMAs 4, 5, and 6. Ghost sharks are caught year-round, with monthly variation reflecting variations in effort directed at the target species.

2.2.8  Other species (Table 1)

Several squaloid sharks have been taken by trawlers in significant quantities during the last decade. northern spiny dogfish and seal shark (Dalatias licha) have both been important bycatch species, and are marketed for their flesh. Landings of shovelnose dogfish (Deania calcea) and carpet shark (Cephaloscyllium isabellum) peaked in the late 1980s and have been low ever since. The reason for their short burst in popularity is unknown, but it may have been due to the development and decline of a liver oil fishery. Summers (1987) reported that 23t of shark liver oil were exported in 1985, mainly to Japan, but no data are available for other years.

Several pelagic sharks are regularly caught by tuna longliners. The most important is blue shark, followed by porbeagle and mako sharks. Increased landings of all three species since about 1993–94 resulted from the expansion of the domestic tuna fishery. However there was a large, mainly unreported, catch of these species by foreign tuna longliners (especially Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean) that intensively fished New Zealand's EEZ during the late 1970s and early 1980s (Ross and Bailey 1986). The foreign fleet has now declined substantially and the current fishing effort is about 10% of that exerted during the peak year in 1981. Most blue sharks are discarded at sea, whereas porbeagles and makos are retained for their flesh and fins, providing they don't compete for freezer space with the more valuable tuna species.

Two other coastal pelagic sharks, thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) and hammerhead shark, have each produced steady landings of 10–20t/yr during the last decade. Bronze whaler landings have increased since 1992–93. Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) landings have been low, except in 1994–95 when 91t were reported caught. It is not known whether this represented a real increase in landings for that year, or whether errors have been made in data recording; for example, the catches may have partly consisted of seal shark (species code BSH) that were mis-coded as basking shark (BSK).

Landings of shark fins increased rapidly from 1992–93 as processors developed export markets in Asia. However, there are no reliable statistics on the quantity of shark fins processed. In theory, the landings data in Table 1 should include the weight of finned sharks; however it is possible that the data do not include sharks for which only the fins (and not the carcasses) are landed. Reporting of shark fins became mandatory in December 1997 and provisions were also introduced to prevent the double-counting of sharks for which both the fins and carcasses are landed: a conversion factor is applied only to the principal landed state, and not to additional landed states.

2.3   Recreational fisheries

Recreational fishing is popular in New Zealand and it can be mainly classified into (1) leisure fishing, (2) organised fishing competitions, and (3) big game fishing. Most sharks are taken as a result of leisure fishing, but organised competitions are becoming more popular and big game fishing has a long history.

There is no information on the size of recreational catches before 1991. In 1991–94, a large scale survey was undertaken to estimate the amount of fish caught by recreational fishers. Southern New Zealand was surveyed in 1991–92, central New Zealand in 1992–93 and northern New Zealand in 1993–94 (Bradford 1996, 1997, Annala and Sullivan 1997, Teirney et al. 1997). The survey consisted of (a) a random telephone survey to identify households that contained recreational fishers, (b) the completion of a fishing diary over a period of 12 months by a subsample of the identified fishers, (c) aerial and boat ramp surveys to verify catch estimates, and (d) boat ramp surveys to obtain mean weight estimates. 35 115 households (3.0%) were contacted in the telephone survey and 4579 recreational fishers (1.2% of the estimated total of 389 000 fishers) kept diaries (Teirney et al. 1997). The numbers of fish reported caught by diarists have been scaled up to represent the total recreational catch of each fish species. However, because the three New Zealand regions were surveyed in different years, the amount of fish caught in a given year can not be determined. Instead, the sum of the amounts caught in the three regions is indicative of annual catch levels rather than a true estimate of the annual catch. Inter-annual variation in factors that affect fishing effort and success, especially weather, may have affected the results.

Recreational landings of spiny dogfish, school shark and rig (Table 2) were small compared with commercial landings: the indicative annual recreational catches comprised only 6–8% of the total landings of each species (which were estimated by averaging the annual commercial landings over the three year period 1991–94 and adding the indicative recreational landings). Spiny dogfish are usually considered a nuisance by recreational fishers as they clog nets and take bait intended for other species. They are generally avoided rather than targeted. School shark and rig are increasingly being retained for food when caught, and may be targeted by some fishers. Historically, many were discarded because they were perceived to be inedible. A further nation-wide telephone, diary and boat ramp survey of recreational fishers was conducted in 1996, but the results are not yet available.

Table 2

Indicative annual recreational landings of sharks, based on surveys conducted in 1991–94 (indicates that weight could not be estimated because of small sample size, or insufficient individual fish weight estimates)
SpeciesNumber caughtWeight
Spiny dogfish194000465
School shark58000175
Unspecified sharks and rays62000-

Shark fishing competitions that typically last 2–3 days are held in many parts of New Zealand, especially during summer. Some competitions target both sharks and tunas. Most competitions place voluntary minimum weight limits on sharks (often 40kg), and this has reduced the number of small sharks and small species being landed. The main species landed in competitions is the blue shark, but makos are also frequently taken along with smaller quantities of bronze whaler, hammerhead, thresher and sevengill sharks.

Big game fishing began in 1915 and has been very popular with New Zealand and overseas anglers ever since. Traditionally, most big game fishing occurred in northern New Zealand, particularly the north-east coast of North Island. In recent years, the sport has become more widespread, with considerable activity now along the west coast North Island and east coast South Island. Most big game fishing targets marlins and tunas, but there is also considerable targeting of makos, which are regarded as prime sport fish. Blue, hammerhead, theresher and bronze whaler sharks are also caught. Big game landings peaked at 1248 sharks in 1980–81 (Figure 5). Since 1987, there has been an upsurge in the popularity of tag-and-release of all game fish, resulting in a steady reduction in the numbers of sharks landed by big game fishers (Figure 5; New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council 1978–1996, Saul and Holdsworth 1992).

Figure 5

Numbers of sharks landed by big game fishing clubs

Figure 5

2.4   Markets

2.4.1  Introduction

Hayes (1996) summarised the information available on New Zealand's trade in sharks. Export statistics (processed weight) are available for the main species (school shark, rig, elephantfish, spiny dogfish, ghost sharks and skates), and other shark species combined, for the calendar years since 1988. Hayes used these data, and landings data for fishing years (1 October - 30 September) to estimate the annual percentages of school shark, rig and elephantfish landings that were exported over the period 1990–1995. Although the time periods are not strictly comparable, this is the only approach possible given the form of the data. A more serious problem is that Hayes did not convert the export data to whole weight before relating them to the landings data (E. Hayes, TRAFFIC, pers. comm.). Appropriate factors for converting fillet weight to whole weight are 2.85 for elephantfish, 2.30 for school shark and 2.70 for rig. If we assume that all exports were in the form of fillets, revised estimates of the percentages of the landings exported during 1990–1995 are 1–16% for elephantfish, 31–49% for school shark, and 45–60% for rig. Using export data presented graphically by Hayes (1996, Figure 13), approximate estimates for the export percentages of ghost sharks, spiny dogfish and skates over the same period were 73–100%, 135–246%, and 13–29% respectively. Clearly the estimates for spiny dogfish are incorrect, but the source of the error(s), and whether it affects estimates for other species, is unknown.

The large catch of unspecified sharks in 1979–80 was probably mostly blue sharks, which were not recorded separately until the following year. Source: New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council (1978–1996).

Exports of shark products increased rapidly between 1988 and 1991 and have fluctuated between about 4000 and 6000t/yr since then (Hayes 1996). Most shark products are exported to Korea, Australia and Japan, with smaller quantities going to France, United Kingdom and United States. Exports to Australia consist mostly of school shark and rig, whereas exports to Korea and Japan consist mainly of spiny dogfish and ghost sharks respectively (Hayes 1996). Shark fins, liver oil and cartilage are also exported from New Zealand, but little information is available on quantities (Hayes 1996).

Shark products are consumed domestically in several forms. A major market is the “fish and chip” trade, for which the long, boneless fillets of sharks are in high demand. Increasingly, fresh shark fillets are being sold directly to customers although there is still considerable consumer resistance to eating shark flesh, and fillets are frequently sold under the disguise of trade names.

2.4.2  Revenues from the fishery

Revenues from the fishery for the calendar years 1994 and 1995 are given in Table 3. Value is measured in terms of an Indicative Port Price (IPP) for each of the six main species groups, and the total value of catches. The IPP is a measure of the price paid to fishers for their catch, averaged across New Zealand. It was developed by the Ministry of Fisheries and the New Zealand Fishing Industry Board and is used to apportion Government charges across all species for the management cost recovery process.

Table 3

Indicative Port Price (IPP) and estimated primary value of the 1994 and 1995 catches by domestic fishers. Source: New Zealand Fishing Industry Board (1994–1996)
Value ($NZ000)
Value ($NZ000)
Elephantfish150094909491073 1073
Ghost shark5306113739846704891159
School shark120030826331443264543318
Spiny dogfish370982133223158488751723

2.5  Quota management and prices of elasmobranch species

During the 1997/98 fishing year a TACC of 3105.4t was set for school shark. The average sale price of quota for school shark was $NZ9000, thus the estimated capital value of this resource was $NZ27 948 600. It should be noted that compared to other more desired species, quota for school shark is not highly traded. The most recent prices requested in the trade literature are $NZ11 000/t for 3.6t in Fishing Management Area 1 and NZ$13 000/t for 1.9t in FMA 2.

Table 41 shows more detailed data for the 12 month period October 1997 - September 1998 with a detailed breakdown of amounts of quota leased and traded for elephant fish, school shark and rig. In all cases a high proportion of the Total Allowable Commerical catch is leased with a lesser amount of quota actually sold. Care is necessary in interpreting these data. While this information is provided by The Ministry of Fisheries who produce a publication (the blue book) that details trades and leases of all species traded under the QMS and which includes catches for each of the QMS species. But, these data are not always accurate as some people deliberately misreport the value when they sell their quota. The price stated may include the sale of some other asset, or a value of $1 may be reported as it is not wished to indicate what was paid for the quota.

Most school shark is sold on the domestic market and prices vary seasonally and with port of landing. A good average wholesale price, at the point of sale after that of ex-vessel, is $NZ3.50/kg dressed weight. Smaller quantities air-freighted to Australia fetch up to $NZ5.00/kg. These prices exclude the New Zealand Goods and Service Tax.

2.6  Economics of the fishery

In line with New Zealand Government policies that have applied since 1984, no subsidies are applied to shark fisheries, nor are any applied to any other commercial fishery.

Shark fisheries are relatively minor, comprising 3.5% of New Zealand's total finish landings in 1994–95 (Francis in press). No figures are available regarding capital inputs into shark fisheries, expenditure patterns, or returns to Government through taxes. Sharks are an integral part of a range of mixed-species trawl, set net and longline fisheries. Inshore fisheries are stable in terms of numbers of fishers employed, the number of registered vessels and quota ownership of the major species. The fishing industry actively seeks increases in TACCs of rig and elephantfish, suggesting that fisheries for those species at least are profitable.

As with all commercial fisheries, shark fisheries are subject to cost recovery levies and charges imposed by the Ministry of Fisheries. These levels cover the cost of most research, enforcement, fisheries administration and management. Table 5 shows the 1997–98 charges imposed for shark Fishstocks compared with the assessed IPP received by the fisher. Further comments are given in Section 9.

2.7  The fisheries workforce

Commercial shark fisheries are generally exploited by full-time fishers. As outlined above, it is not possible to determine specific employment levels in shark fisheries. Evolution of employment in shark fisheries is also impossible to define although overall employment levels in the catching sector of the fishing industry remained relatively constant over the period 1990–1995.


3.1   The fisheries within the context of national fisheries policies

The national policy is to manage fisheries under the QMS, although only three shark species have so far been included in the QMS. The policy also provides for the progressive movement of all other commercial fishing species to the QMS, and it is planned to include ghost sharks in October 1998. In the interim, other sharks are managed by total competitive quotas or input controls (see Sections 2.2.5, 2.2.6, 4.2.2). In December 1992 the Goverment introduced a moratorium on the issue of any new non-QMS fishing permits (apart from tuna species) to prevent increases in fishing pressure. As a result of this action, no further permits have been issued to catch non-QMS species pending decisions to incorporate them in the QMS.

1 Information kiondly provided by Clements & Associates, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Table 4

Data on leases and trades of chondricthyan species managed under the New Zealand Quota Management System October 1997 - September 1998 (Quantities in tonnes)
ELE = Elephantfish (Callorhynchus milii); SCH = School shark (Galeorhinus australis); SPO = Rig (Mustelus lenticulatus)
Quota codeQuantity leasedNo.LowMean ($NZ/t)HighQuantity tradedNo.LowMean ($NZ/t)HighTACC% leased% traded
ELE14.03916641203506.62024 0004 0004 0001040.466.2
ELE26.1182810021260023.172912 00013 34314 50021.60028.3107.3
ELE3420.86512123958002.63595 0006 52710 500500.00084.20.5
ELE558.8084915032250019.250151 2004 2646 00071.30082.527.0
ELE791.167110031770065.400308 00010 82819 142101.80089.564.2
SCH1519.11402008621 50010.80089 00010 12511 000668.30077.71.6
SCH2212.556108856361 00036.600178 0009 78211 000198.600107.018.4
SCH3299.91414633738002.00016 0006 0006 000321.90093.20.6
SCH4211.92485518345037.42097 2188 39012 000238.50088.915.7
SCH5432.018875044567561.725164 0008 43811 250693.90062.38.9
SCH7388.4029913660110 00016.20085 4839 16810 125533.70072.83.0
SCH8304.092792005801 2009.269245 3808 99315 000440.60069.02.1
SPO1626.4951482607531 1255.37368 0009 00010 000692.00090.50.8
SPO252.90462105981 20048.3822410 00012 20014 00072.00073.567.2
SPO3386.65617135112 00044.346149 27310 62913 500453.90085.29.8
SPO7236.3629820080013 00026.41587,00010 00013 500350.00067.57.5
SPO8323.728712506161 20026.41587 00010 00013 500310.000104.48.5

The objectives for management of commercial fisheries in New Zealand are not defined in national fisheries policies as such, but the broad direction is contained in the Ministry of Fisheries document “Changing Course - Towards Fisheries 2010” (1996):

Table 5

Levies charged by the Ministry of Fisheries on shark species in 1997–98
SpeciesFishstockTACC (1997–98) or catch (1995–96) (t) Annual levy ($NZ/t)IPP ($NZ/t)
QMS species
ElephantfishELE 11030.721500
 ELE 22230.72 
 ELE 3500125.04 
 ELE 57171.76 
 ELE 710271.76 
RigSPO 1692109.801800
 SPO 272108.60 
 SPO 3454108.60 
 SPO 7350108.60 
 SPO 8310108.60 
School sharkSCH 166866.241200
 SCH 219964.92 
 SCH 332264.92 
 SCH 423946.92 
 SCH 569464.92 
 SCH 753464.92 
 SCH 844164.92 
Non-QMS species
Ghost sharks 219024.51530
Skates 278947.50300
Spiny dogfish 620821.86370

IPP = Indicative Port Price.
QMS = Quota Management System. TACC is given for QMS species and catch for non-QMS species.

“The Ministry is advocating ecosystem management as the underlying principle of the proposed Fisheries 2010 strategy. This approach explicitly recognises New Zealand's fisheries are a finite resource and part of the wider aquatic ecosystem. It also recognises the need for both to be managed together in ways that ensure their survival. A fisheries policy must support a long-term future for a fishing industry by setting sustainable catch limits and providing secure, tradable harvesting rights. This provides a framework that allows the industry to be both competitive and healthy. Attitudes towards our fisheries continue to change. The ecosystem management approach, which will underpin the Fisheries 2010 Strategy, recognises that natural systems are inter-connected and need to be managed in ways that ensure their survival. The Ministry believes it is time to view fisheries management in the context of the aquatic environment. All aspects and values of the aquatic ecosystem need to be taken into account when considering fisheries management goals and regimes. More information is needed about the relationship between the population dynamics of species and health of the ecosystem. Many fish stocks depend on a healthy, near-shore coastal ecosystem. Mangrove and other inshore ecosystems, for example, are important nurseries for many commercial fish stocks.

Fisheries policy also encompasses the management of recreational fisheries and provision for customary Maori fishing. Input into public processes under the Resource Management Act also ensures fisheries management objectives are taken into account in the management of the coast and waterways. The Ministry recognises moving to an ecosystem framework for managing our fisheries will require the building of a new consensus with stakeholders and other government agencies. This process will consist of establishing outcomes society wants to achieve and implementing strategies to achieve these outcomes. Once the frameworks to maximise the contribution of all stakeholders in this process are in place, all future fisheries policy will be judged on the basis of whether it is consistent with the principles of the Fisheries 2010 strategy and advances or detracts from achieving its goals.

Among other things, the Environment 2010 Strategy pointed out the market economy is an efficient and flexible way to allocate resources to meet individual needs and preferences. Society benefits from the innovation and dynamism the market secures. However, not all the outcomes of a market economy are necessarily beneficial. Where unplanned or unforeseen outcomes of a market economy are judged to be undesirable, the community will seek to change them through political processes. Concern about sustainable use of our fisheries has led governments to intervene to manage fisheries. Further, current management structures provide limited mechanisms for individuals or groups to minimise environmental harm, or have inadequate ways of enforcing their right to a clean environment.

Twelve founding principles for healthy fisheries will underpin the development of the Fisheries 2010 strategy. These principles, listed below, help minimise or resolve conflicts between environmental, economic and social objectives, and are already enshrined in legislation such as the Resource Management and Fisheries Acts, in the Environment 2010 Strategy, and in international conventions:

To understand the current legislative framework, it is necessary to look back at the development of the QMS. Input controls on fisheries have historically not worked well, and they ultimately lead to increased fishing effort. In particular, where there is open entry and hig demand, such management measures encourage a “race for fish”. In the early to mid 1980s, management of New Zealand's small-scale inshore fisheries centred on input controls such as restrictions on the number of boats, size of nets, and mesh size. Concurrently, there were problems with effective enforcement and a lack of scientific information required to assess the stocks. An approach based on allocation of ITQ under a TACC was adopted as the most effective means of stabilising the fisheries.

At the same time, effort was put into improving compliance, monitoring and inspection; ensuring that data collection was enhanced; and developing a research capability for fisheries stock assessment. This has been accompanied by a move towards increased industry responsibility for fisheries management, with the Government concentrating on policy development and implementation. The management of shark fisheries is an integral part of the overall management regime embodied in the QMS. No specific exceptions are made for shark fisheries, either inside or outside the QMS.

3.2  Objectives for the management of the shark fisheries

There are no specific objectives for management of shark fisheries. The management objective for all New Zealand fisheries, as specified in the Fisheries Act 1996, is to manage them in a way that will lead to the production of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). The Fisheries Act 1996 provides the following:

“8. Purpose-

  1. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability.

  2. In this Act-
    ‘Ensuring sustainability’ means-

    1. Maintaining the potential of fisheries resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and

    2. Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment:

    ‘Utilisation’ means conserving, using, enhancing, and developing fisheries resources to enable people to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing.

13. Total allowable catch-

  1. Subject to this section, the Minister shall, by notice in the Gazette, set in respect of the quota management area relating to each quota management stock a total allowable catch for that stock, and that total allowable catch shall continue to apply in each fishing year for that stock unless varied under this section.

  2. The Minister shall set a total allowable catch that-
    (a) Maintains the stock at or above a level that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, having regard to the interdependence of stocks.”

3.3  The objective setting process

There is no specific objective setting process for shark fisheries. There is, however, opportunity for stakeholders to participate in the stock assessment and TACC setting processes, details of which are given in Sections 5.2 and 5.3. Stakeholders are defined for this purpose as all those groups or organisations with an interest in the fishery, whether at a national or local level. Stakeholders include, industry, recreational fishers, Maori, and environmental groups.

3.4   Discussion

As described above, management objectives cover all fisheries and are not specific to shark fisheries. Issues of resource rent, equity and efficiency are currently debated during the cost recovery process undertaken by the Ministry of Fisheries. Prior to this there had been a resource rental imposition on the fishing industry. This had proven to be an unsatisfactory process for both Government and fishing industry because of the difficulty in defining profitability upon which the resource rent was based. The scheme was changed in 1994 when the Fisheries Amendment Act 1994 introduced cost recovery to replace resource rentals (see Section 9 for more details on the cost recovery process).

As set out in Section 3.2, the Fisheries Act 1996 provides clearly for sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources in the EEZ through the setting of TACs for all stocks at levels that maintain them at, or above, the level that can produce the MSY. This concept has been applied in New Zealand fisheries legislation since the early 1980s and is widely accepted by all stakeholder groups as the appropriate foundation for effective long-term management.

There are, however, considerable variances of view in how the concepts embodied in the Act should be applied in a practical sense. This has particularly been the case in fisheries that are assessed as operating at levels of effort that have exceeded that necessary for the MSY and “rebuild” strategies are required. Extensive debate has occurred on the means by which such rebuilding should be managed. This does not mean that the broad policy objectives embodied in the Ministry's document quoted in Section 3.1 are not shared by all stakeholders. It simply demonstrates that the policy and management objectives are dynamic and are taking practical effect.


4.1  Identification and evaluation of policies

The policy framework for shark fisheries is the same as for all other New Zealand fisheries. Below, we provide a historical overview of the development of fisheries management policies in New Zealand.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, New Zealand's inshore fisheries came under severe biological and economic pressure. Problems included overcapitalisation, overfishing of a number of key inshore commercial and recreational species, declining commercial and recreational catches, and a realisation that traditional input controls on commercial fishing were not going to solve the problems. The Government developed a new approach, comprising the following principles:

Management policy was developed from management philosophy. The first step in this direction was the introduction of a quota management scheme in April 1982 for a small number of lightly exploited deepwater species. These stocks came within New Zealand's management purview as the result of the declaration of the 200-mile EEZ in 1978.

The critical policy components were conservation and allocation. In relation to conservation, the goal was the wise use of renewable resources by limiting catches to MSY. In terms of allocation it was decided to determine the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and after allowing for recreational and other non-commercial interests in the fishery, and any other relevant environmental, social, cultural or economic factors, to set a Total Allowable Commercial catch (TACC) for each stock. Commercial fishers were then allocated the TACC in the form of ITQ with the goal of maximising the net economic return to the nation. In 1986, ITQ's gave fishers the right to catch a specified quantity of fish from a fish stock each fishing year, allocated in perpetuity. In 1990, this was changed so that each owner was allocated a specified proportion of the TACC. This change has been part of the process of moving responsibility and accountability for the QMS from government to the fishing industry. Under the precise tonnage quotas, any increase in ITQ had to be purchased by the fishing industry and decreases were to be compensated by Government (i.e. the Government took the risk). Under the proportional approach, increases and decreases are at no cost to the Government or the industry respectively (i.e. the industry bears the risk). Each ITQ owner has the right to catch, sell, or lease their quota. Recreational fishing was made subject to daily bag limits and trading restrictions that prohibited recreational fishermen from selling their catch.

A number of important steps were required before the QMS could begin. Fishstock boundaries were defined for each species, TACs and TACCs were determined, and ITQs were allocated on the basis of each fisher's historical participation in each fishery. Nominal ITQs were based on the average catch from the best two years out of a three-year period prior to the introduction of the quota system. In most fish stocks, the sum of all the individual catch histories exceeded the proposed TACC. To reduce the sum of the nominal ITQs to the level of the proposed TACC, Government instituted a scheme to buy out the excess catch. That scheme was a major prerequisite for the implementation of the QMS. The aim was to facilitate industry rationalisation, increase industry acceptance of the policy, improve compliance and reduce the effects of the initial cuts required to reduce historical catch levels to the TACC.

Quota trading is the key to success of an ITQ scheme. It is a continuous adjustment process that allows economic rationalisation and industry fine tuning (matching catch with quota). Quota may be freely traded subject to limitations on foreign ownership (no more than 24.9%) and an “aggregation limit” of 20% maximum holding of inshore species by area. Quota trades may be made in lots of 100kg or more, and must be registered with the Government along with details of the seller, buyer, amount of quota and price. Quota can be sold, leased or sub-leased. Foreign ownership limits were applied to remove concerns at the time about New Zealand fisheries being dominated by other nations that historically fished in New Zealand waters, particularly Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The aggregation limits were designed to protect small-scale fishing operators by not allowing large companies to dominate the industry.

Before the introduction of the QMS, fisheries enforcement emphasised physical apprehension of offenders. This led to a poor record of convictions, inefficient use of enforcement officers and a concentration on minor offending. The focus of enforcement changed following the start of the QMS, The flow of product is monitored from approved landing places through to its final sale; the focus is now on land rather than at sea. The main features of the new enforcement are: catch, product and accounting systems surveillance; monitoring and management of information; strategic and technical intelligence analysis; and targeted investigations/audits. The main legislative elements include:

4.2   Policies adopted

4.2.1   Resources access

Access to shark fisheries is governed by the availability of ITQ, the availability of a fishing permit, and input control regulatory measures (see Section 4.2.2). ITQs are allocated to persons who hold commercial fishing permits when fish species are introduced into the QMS. For most finfish, including school shark, rig and elephantfish, the date was 18 September 1986. ITQs are allocated as a proportion of the TACC based on each permit holder's catch history. Permit holders who believe that their allocation is unfair may appeal to the Quota Appeal Authority for a review of the amount and types of quota allocated.

4.2.2  Gear restrictions

In northern New Zealand (QMAs 1 and 9) there is a minimum commercial and recreational set net mesh size of 125mm for rig and school shark. In central and southern New Zealand (QMAs 2– 8) there is a mesh size limit of 150mm for school shark, but none for rig. Numerous general restrictions apply to commercial and/or recreational set net and longline fishing, including limits on length of net, number of nets, number of hooks per longline, number of longlines, soak time, the amount of an estuary or bay that can be blocked by a net, and areas that can be fished. The restrictions vary regionally and are described in detail by MAF Fisheries (1993). The aim of these regulations is to reduce the number of nets lost and the amount of fish wasted to sea lice and decay because of excessively long sets and to minimise conflict with other users of inshore waters. Most harbours and semi-enclosed bays, and many coastal strips are closed to trawling and Danish seining to reduce conflict among different fishing methods and between commercial and recreational fishers.

4.2.3   Vessel regulations

Vessel regulations are not used as a means of managing shark fisheries.

4.2.4  Biological regulations

There are no size restrictions for any shark species.

4.2.5  Catch/quota allocation

For the three shark species that are currently managed under the QMS, allocation of ITQ was made in October 1986. Since then ITQ can be, and has been freely traded (Section 2.5).

4.2.6  Discussion

Overall, the QMS has proven to be a stable and effective management system. The benefits achieved include:

The Ministry of Fisheries continues to develop its policies, both short and long term. In the annual report of the Ministry of Fisheries for the year ending 30 June 1997, the Chief Executive reported:

“A major challenge for the Ministry over the next two or three years will be the implementation of the Fisheries Act 1996. The Act, which was passed in August 1996, imposes new obligations on the Crown. These obligations will require the development of new systems, policies and procedures. The Act elevates the concept of sustainable utilisation and backs it by requiring wider consideration of environmental and information principles.
To make good decisions about the allocation of fishery resources is by no means an easy issue. It requires good information about what is happening in the fishery, including the amount being taken by fishers, the natural replacement ability of the particular fish stock and a balancing of the competing interests of stakeholder groups. If we don't know enough about any particular fishery, then in terms of the precautionary principle, we need to take a cautious approach. This is necessary if sustainability of the resource is to be maintained.”

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