The New Zealand Department of Conservation is investigating a “very unusual event” after a juvenile Great White Shark was found killed, for what appears to be its meat.
An image shared by White Shark Conservation Trust on Saturday showed a picture of the shark, which is missing its lower half, in Pilot Bay, Tauranga.
The post said it appeared the shark had been killed to consume, and it also had stab wounds to its head, indicating it had been killed after it was brought to shore.
“This act is illegal on a number of accounts [including] killing of a protected species and being in possession of parts of a white shark.
“These are prosecutable offences, and we urge anyone who knows anything about this to report their information to DOC or MPI.”
DOC’s shark expert Clinton Duffy said it was “very unusual” for this to happen.
“Most people can identify [a Great White Shark] and they leave them on the beach.”
Shark can be eaten and Duffy said in this case just the head, pectoral fins and innards were left.
The head being left was unusual as Duffy said normally people took the jaws for their teeth.
“We don’t often get them walking away with the bulk of the animal.”
However, he couldn’t think of any other reason someone would do that besides wanting to eat it.
Duffy said someone would have to be living under a rock to not recognise the shark as a Great White.
“It’s illegal to retain any part of it.
“They are totally protected.”
Between Eastern Australia and New Zealand he said there were about 750 adult Great White Sharks and 12,000 juvenile.
It is illegal to catch a Great White deliberately, but it isn’t illegal to catch them by accident.
However, they had to be released straight away and Fisheries NZ or DOC are meant to be contacted.
Some sharks didn’t survive being released and Duffy said they probably saw about a dozen dead Great White Sharks wash up on the beaches or caught in nets a year.
Department of Conservation principal compliance officer Dylan Swain said they were aware of the remains.
“We are investigating what has occurred here and how the remains of the animal have ended up at this site, in this state.
“At this point details and information are sparse – so we would encourage any members of the public who have information on what happened to contact us, or provide information anonymously via the police Crimestoppers line.
The maximum penalties for the unlawful killing or taking of protected species are a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment of two years.
Ministry for Primary Industries national manager of fisheries compliance Steve Ham said they had not received any complaints about the shark.
But they are aware of the Facebook post and are looking into it, he said.
“We encourage anyone with information regarding potential fisheries or animal welfare offences to report it to MPI’s hotline: 0800 4 POACHER.”