Friday, December 01, 2006

New Zealand bans killing of great white shark

The great white shark, at risk of being hunted into extinction because its jaws are prized as trophies, will be fully protected by New Zealand from April 2007, the government said Thursday.
New regulations will ban hunting, killing or harming the ocean predator within 350 kilometers (220 miles) of New Zealand, and make it illegal to possess or trade in any part of the shark, Conservation Minister Chris Carter and Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said in a statement.
The shark's jaws have been reported to be worth as much as 18,000 New Zealand dollars (US$12,200; €9,279) and teeth up to NZ$1,700 (US$1,153; €877).

"No one wants to see an animal hunted to extinction for the sake of a jaw or a few teeth, or to be placed under pressure by accidental catch," he said.

Under the new regulations, the maximum penalty for targeting the sharks, also known as white pointers, will be a NZ$250,000 (US$169,500; €129,000) fine and up to six months in prison.
Carter said New Zealand was a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and has an obligation to protect the animals.

Although they have a reputation as a predator, the species is vulnerable and becoming rarer round the world.

"These majestic animals occur naturally in low numbers and, without protection, could be pushed to the brink of extinction," he said.

Accidentally catching and killing the sharks would not be prosecuted, provided the death was registered with authorities, he added.

Great whites are found across the Pacific Ocean, round North and South America, and round parts of Africa and Europe.

The species will be protected under the nation's Wildlife Act, the ministers said.

It will be protected on the high seas under the Fisheries Act, which applies to New Zealand-flagged boats anywhere in the world.


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