Legislation to Protect Basking Sharks Effective 16 December 2010

A joint Ministerial decision has resulted in regulations under s297 of the Fisheries Act 1996 to introduce amendments to the Fisheries (Reporting) Requlations 2001 and Schedule 7A of the Wildlife Act 1953.

The new regulations which will take effect from 16 December 2010, will prohibit the taking of basking sharks by NZ flagged vessels on the high seas and will require incidental by-catch of basking sharks taken within NZ fisheries waters to re reported on the Non-fish and Protected Species Catch Return.

During May and June 2010 the Department of Conservation collaborated with the Ministry of Fisheries to develop a suite of measures that would provide the most comprehensive protection available for basking sharks ( Cetorhinus maximus) in New Zealand waters, and from New Zealand vessels operating on the high seas.

In September 2010 a Final Advice Paper was provided to the Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Fisheries. The Minister of Conservation decided that Schedule 7A of the Wildlife Act 1953 should be amended to include basking sharks. At the same time the Minister of Fisheries approved consequential and supportive amendments to the Fisheries Regulations. These amendments are scheduled to come into force on 16 December 2010.

Further information on the Minister of Conservation’s decision and on the Minister of Fisheries decisions concerning relevant Fisheries Regulation amendments can be viewed on the Ministry of Fisheries website.


Basking sharks ( Cetorhinus maximus) are considered to be extremely vulnerable to exploitation.

Both the MFish and DOC proposed to provide protection for basking sharks ( Cetorhinus maximus), both in New Zealand fisheries waters and from New Zealand vessels fishing on the high seas.

Specifically, this proposal considered the following regulatory changes:

a) amendment to Schedule 7A of the Wildlife Act, to include basking shark;
b) drafting of new Fisheries (Basking Shark – High Seas Protection) Regulations 2010; and
c) amendment to Part 2C of Schedule 3 to the Fisheries (Reporting) Regulations 2001, to include basking shark.

New Zealand is a member state of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). By ratifying this Convention New Zealand acknowledged the importance of conserving migratory species, and agreed to take action to protect such species wherever appropriate and possible.

New Zealand subsequently made a commitment to establishing protection measures for the basking shark in 2008, through publication of the National Plan of Action-Sharks (NPOA-Sharks).

New Zealand currently manages basking sharks through the Fisheries Act 1996, although the species is not within the quota management system (QMS). Fishers can legally utilise incidental captures of basking sharks, but targeting this species is not permitted. By continuing to allow such utilisation of basking sharks, New Zealand will not fulfil its obligations to the CMS.

Click on the attachments below to see the relevant documentation.