Shark finning – slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea - has been banned in the European Union (EU) since 2003. Yet, loopholes in the legislation were making the ban practically impossible to enforce. EU member states were issuing “special fishing permits” allowing shark fins and bodies to be landed separately. Exemptions in the law made a mockery of the ban.
On 22nd November 2012, after six years of debate and working the halls of the European Parliament with our Shark Alliance partners, the Parliament voted to close loopholes in the ban. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thanks to your support, sharks caught by EU vessels anywhere in the world must now be landed with their fins naturally attached.
Thank You for Protecting Sharks from Finning
EU Shark Journey
When Project AWARE joined the Shark Alliance in 2006 as a Steering Group member, our aims were to secure an EU Plan of Action for sharks and a strong and enforceable shark finning ban. Our collective work driven by your support led:
- The EU Commission to adopt the Community Plan of Action for Sharks (CPOA) in 2009.
- MEPs to sign a Written Declaration in support of strengthening the EU finning ban in 2010. The Written Declaration was then endorsed as a Resolution of the Parliament and forwarded to the EU Commission. In 2011, the EU Commission launched a public consultation on options for how to best change the regulation.
- MEPs to vote overwhelmingly in favour of the EU Commission proposal to impose the best practice for finning ban enforcement: a prohibition on removing shark fins at sea with no exceptions.
Divers are Serious about Sharks
Along the way, you supported our work and took action with us showing decision makers that divers are serious about sharks:
- You demonstrated your support for improved shark conservation by signing a paper fin and “Making Your Fins Count” during European Shark Week 2007.
- In 2008, you called on European Fisheries and Environment Ministers to promote a strong European Plan of Action for sharks helping us collect more than 100,000 petition signatures.
- In 2009, you joined the “Predator Turned Prey” petition campaign. You called on Fisheries Ministers to follow through on the Plan’s initiatives and urged Spain to end its opposition to improving the EU ban on shark finning. Over 93,000 people signed the petition.
- In 2010, you sent letters to MEPs urging them to sign the Written Declaration in support of a strong EU finning ban.
- In 2011, you called on National Fisheries Ministers in EU Member States to close loopholes in the ban by signing the “Make the Push” petition.
- And finally, in 2012, you help us keep the pressure on by voicing your support and submitting photos to the EU Shark Journey legacy website.
Why does it matter?
The EU shark finning ban was one of the weakest in the world, yet the EU is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia. With a “fins naturally attached policy” in place with no exceptions, the EU, given the global scale of its fisheries and the international influence of its shark management policies, is in a better position to push for game changing shark conservation measures.
We must ensure the complete ban on shark finning is implemented while focusing on securing international trade safeguards for vulnerable shark and ray species under CITES. At the next meeting of countries who are members to CITES in March 2013, we will again be the voice and conscience of divers to demand that sharks and rays receive trade protections they desperately need.