Strengthening Europe's Finning Ban

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January 2012

Shark Advocates International is welcoming a sound proposal from the European Commission that marks the start of the final steps of a lengthy process to strengthen the European Union (EU) ban on shark finning (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea).

The EU, a major player in shark fishing, has one of the world's weakest bans on "finning". Loopholes that allow permitted fishermen to land excessive amounts of fins separately from shark bodies hinder both enforcement and the development of sound international measures. SAI has been working with the European members of the Shark Alliance and scientists to fix the EU finning regulation by instituting a complete prohibition on removing shark fins at sea (as required for most US and Central American shark fisheries).

Portugal, France, and particularly Spain are home to some of the world's largest, widest ranging shark fishing fleets, and thus EU shark fishing regulations have a global impact. SAI is part of a growing conservation chorus promoting the "fins naturally attached" method with which to properly enforce the EU finning ban and facilitate collection of key, species-specific information on shark catches. The process for amending the EU finning ban has taken many years and the final decisions have the potential to vastly improve regional and international shark fisheries management, but the battle is far from won. Influential fishing industry interests from Spain are pushing for changes that could relax rather than strengthen existing safeguards.

In November, the European Commission at long last released its final proposal for amending the EU finning regulation and we are delighted to report that it follows conservationists' requests. The proposal will be considered over the coming months by EU fisheries ministers and the European Parliament. If you are an EU citizen or visit Europe frequently, you can help by asking fishery ministers and Members of Parliament to actively support a complete ban on at-sea shark fin removal, without exceptions. Please also sign the Shark Alliance petition.

Shark Fins in Europe:Implications for reforming the EU finning ban (Executive Summary)

Shark Fin Soup
Shark Fin Soup