Shark finning ban

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 2014, it's been illegal in New Zealand for fishers to remove fins from sharks and then discard the bodies into the sea. The sharks cannot be thrown into the sea even if they're dead. Before the ban, it was already illegal to remove the fins from a live shark and then return the body to the sea.

There are also specific requirements for some species.

Requirements of the ban for different species

For some species the fins must be naturally attached when landed. For others, the fins can be naturally or artificially attached when landed.

If following a fin-to-greenweight ratio, the fins can be unattached when landed.

Species that must have fins naturally attached

Fishers need to land these species with the fins naturally attached to the body:

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

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

Fact sheet: Landing sharks with fins attached [PDF, 404 KB]

Blue sharks can have their fins naturally or artificially attached

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

What artificially attaching the fins means

For blue sharks, the fins can be removed, but they need to be landed attached to the shark's body. For example, they can be tied or sewn on. This encourages fishers to reduce waste, and allows blue shark fishing to continue. 

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

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

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

The bodies must still be landed. Fishers cannot throw them into the sea.

Fact sheet: Landing shark fins subject to a ratio [PDF, 322 KB]

How the fin-to-greenweight ratio works

For the 7 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

Estimation of fin ratios and dressed weight conversion factors for selected shark species [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Fisheries (Shark Fin to Greenweight Ratios) Circular 2014 [PDF, 50 KB]

Fisheries (Conversion Factors) Notice 2014 [PDF, 3 MB]

Returning sharks to sea

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

All sharks caught must be reported to us. This includes sharks returned to the sea. This ensures that we have accurate data on shark deaths.

Fact sheet: Requirements for returning sharks to the sea (Schedule 6) [PDF, 334 KB]

Find out more

Regulations to eliminate shark finning in New Zealand fisheries – Regulatory Impact Statement [PDF, 288 KB]

Minister's decision letter on eliminating shark finning in New Zealand [PDF, 930 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about the shark finning ban, email

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