EU Strengthens Ban on Shark Finning

November 25, 2012 4:48 pm

November the 22nd saw a major victory for shark conservation as the EU strengthened their ban on shark finning.

Shark finning is the act of slicing off the fins of captured sharks, whilst the bodies, often still alive, are usually thrown back into the ocean. The live sharks, unable to move properly, are then left to die from suffocation, or to be eaten by other predators.

It is a highly lucrative business, with small fins fetching up to 100 US dollars, and as a result tens of millions of sharks are killed each year. Many of the species that are killed are classified as threatened, and could be in danger of extinction.

The EU banned the process of finning in 2003, but loopholes in the legislation allowed fishing vessels with special permits to continue to remove fins legally. Campaigners have been working hard since 2006 to close these loopholes, resulting in a proposal being put before the European Parliament that would ensure any fins landed are still attached to a shark.

On the 22nd, the European Parliament met in Strasbourg, France to vote on this proposal, which was passed in a huge landslide victory of 566-47. The strongest opposition came from Spain and Portugal, who lead Europe in the capture of oceanic sharks.

“Parliament’s overwhelming support for strengthening the EU finning ban represents a significant victory for shark conservation in the EU and beyond,” said Ali Hood, Shark Trust Director of Conservation. “Because of the EU’s influence at international fisheries bodies, this action holds great promise for combating this wasteful practice on a global scale.”

The next focus for shark conservation is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which meets in March to consider proposals to limit trade of commercially valuable, threatened shark species, such as the oceanic whitetip and the porbeagle.

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