Assessing the status of New Zealand and Oceania sharks, rays & chimaeras


Assessing the status of New Zealand and Oceania sharks, rays & chimaeras

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Many shark species possess biological traits, such as long lifespans and small litter sizes, which make them particularly susceptible to population depletion from overfishing. Some species are commercially important, while many others are often caught incidentally as ‘bycatch’ in fisheries targeting more productive or valuable bony fishes. RIEL Senior Research Fellow Peter Kyne is teaming up with colleagues across the Tasman to assess extinction risk of sharks, rays, and chimaeras (collectively referred to as the chondrichthyan fishes) occurring in the waters of New Zealand and the wider South Pacific.


New Zealand is home to close to 120 chondrichthyan species, a quarter of which are endemic, and many of which occur out of sight in the deep ocean. This project will assess the extinction risk status of species found in New Zealand and the Oceania region, using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species ( The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global status of plant and animal species, and uses a single standardized set categories and criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species worldwide. This project will contribute to the on-going global assessment of all chondrichthyan fishes worldwide (~1,250 species) and will help guide conservation and research efforts for this vulnerable group of fishes.


Species assessments for wide-ranging deepsea sharks which also occur in Australian waters will feed into the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub ‘Shark Action Plan’ project which aims to provide a conservation overview and management advice on Australia’s shark fauna. 

The project will include an expert workshop hosted by Auckland Zoo, and is generously supported by the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, the Oceania Chondrichthyan Society, WWF, and the IUCN Shark Specialist Group. Follow @spottedcatshark and @britfinucci on Twitter for project updates.