Shark conservation and management

Find out what we're doing to achieve our aim for New Zealand to be recognised internationally for its efforts in shark conservation and management.

How we manage sharks

One of Fisheries New Zealand's roles is to manage the country's fisheries resources. This means we're responsible for managing the impacts of fishing activity on sharks (and other marine life).

Conservation and management of New Zealand sharks [PDF, 330 KB]

Except for 7 protected species, sharks are fished commercially in New Zealand. But we still need to manage them sustainably and humanely. We do this through the:

National plan of action for conserving and managing sharks

The National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2013 guides how we manage sharks. Its main objectives are to:

  • ensure shark populations stay sustainable in the long term
  • reduce wastage from fishing activity
  • stop shark finning
  • manage non-fishing threats
  • support ongoing shark research
  • work with other organisations to conserve and manage sharks.

We'll review the plan in 2021.

National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2013 [PDF, 709 KB]

Achieving the objectives

The plan covers activities that will help achieve its goals. These include:

  • risks and threats – understanding and responding to them
  • stock sizes of commercial shark species – calculating them and ensuring the catch limits are sustainable
  • monitoring – effectively collecting data on sharks and shark catch
  • best practice guidelines – creating and implementing
  • compliance – with law and best practice guidelines
  • minimising waste – by promoting the full use of shark bodies, or the live release of sharks that are caught
  • reducing fishing-related deaths of protected shark species
  • engaging with other countries to conserve and manage sharks
  • shark habitats – identifying and protecting critical habitats.

Shark finning ban

Since 2014, it's been illegal for commercial fishers to remove fins from sharks and then discard the bodies into the sea. Sharks can't be discarded into the sea even if they're dead. Before that, it was already illegal to remove the fins from a live shark and then return the body to the sea.

Find out more about the shark finning ban

Who to contact

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

Last reviewed: