Shark finning rules

Fisheries New Zealand is dedicated to the conservation and humane harvesting of sharks. Find out about New Zealand's shark finning ban and what fishers need to know.

Shark finning and the law

Since 1 October 2014, it's been illegal in New Zealand for a commercial fisher to remove the fins from any shark and discard the body at sea. There are specific requirements for certain species.

Requirements of the ban for different species

Fins naturally attached

Fishers must land all shark fins naturally attached to the body for:

  • all non-Quota Management System (QMS) species
  • spiny dogfish (a QMS species).

The fins must be attached to the body through some portion of uncut skin.

Fins naturally or artificially attached

Fishers must land fins naturally or artificially attached for blue shark (a QMS species).

Blue shark fins can be removed, provided they're landed attached to the shark's body (for example, by being tied or sewn on). This encourages waste minimisation and allows the fishery for blue shark meat to continue.

Fins not attached and following a fin-to-greenweight ratio

If fishers follow a fin-to-greenweight ratio, they can land shark fins separately to the body for 7 QMS species:

  • elephant fish
  • ghost shark (dark)
  • mako shark
  • pale ghost shark
  • porbeagle shark
  • rig
  • school shark.

Find out more in our fact sheet: Landing shark fins subject to a ratio [PDF, 322 KB]

Fin-to-greenweight ratio

For each species, the weight of fins landed during a trip must not be more than a certain percentage of the species' greenweight (unprocessed weight), caught during that trip. This prevents fishers from discarding sharks after taking their fins.

Find out more

Returning sharks to sea

Fishers can return some shark species to sea subject to certain conditions.

In some cases, fishers must report returned sharks to us. This ensures that we receive accurate data on shark deaths.

Find out more in our fact sheet: Requirements for returning sharks to the sea (Schedule 6) [PDF, 334 KB]

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email

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