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Sharks are thriving at the Kermadec Islands, but not the rest of New Zealand, amid global decline by Adam Smith August 03,2020   |  Source: DTE

A recent global assessment of shark populations at 371 coral reefs in 58 countries found no sharks at almost 20% of reefs and alarmingly low numbers at many others.

The study, which involved over 100 scientists under the Global FinPrint project, gave New Zealand a good score card. But because it focused on coral reefs, it included only one region — Rangitāhua (Kermadec Islands), a pristine subtropical archipelago surrounded by New Zealand’s largest marine reserve.

It is a different story around the main islands of New Zealand. Many coastal shark species may be in decline and less than half a per cent of territorial waters is protected by marine reserves.

In New Zealand, there are more than a hundred species of sharks, rays and chimaeras. They belong to a group of fishes called chondrichthyans, which have skeletons of cartilage instead of bone.

Some 55 per cent of New Zealand’s chondrichthyan species are listed as “not threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Not so encouraging is the 32 per cent of species listed as “data deficient”, meaning we don’t know the status of their populations. Most species (77 per cent) live in waters deeper than 200 metres.

Seven species are fully protected under the Wildlife Act 1953.

 

© Down To Earth 2020

Theme(s): Fisheries Resources.

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