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A Complete Ban on Shark Finning in Europe is Finally within Reach

Sep. 14/12

The European Parliament is set to vote next week on a complete ban on shark finning. After six years of debate, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will finally be voting on amendments aimed at closing loopholes in the current shark finning regulation (final vote in plenary is due to take place in October). Project AWARE together with all our Shark Alliance partners are making the final push to urge MEPs on the Fisheries Committee to remember commitments and join the growing chorus calling to amend the EU ban on shark finning.

Since the Shark Alliance, a coalition of which Project AWARE is a steering group member, was founded in 2006, overwhelming public support to push for a strengthen shark finning ban and make shark finning in Europe a reality has been instrumental in making good progress in securing shark protection measures. Year after year, the diving community, European citizens and shark enthusiasts from all over the world voiced their support during European Shark Week. Last year’s European Shark Week petition received 165,000 signatures. Suzanne Pleydell, Project AWARE Europe, Middle East, Africa Director, with a Shark Alliance delegation, presented these signatures to UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon in February 2012.

Currently, Spain and Portugal, the EU’s top ranking shark fishing countries, are the only EU Member States still granting special fishing permits that allow their fishermen to remove shark fins at sea. Several organizations in Spain and Portugal representing the community longliners’ industry recently asked the European Parliament to reject the “fins naturally attached – with no exception” policy developed by the European Commission. They argue that this decision is essential to ensure the fleet survival and the 13,875 jobs depending on it. The fishing industry also claims that a complete ban will cost them more than €9 million. According to a new report published by Oceana, the boats granted these special permits have received more than €117 million in EU subsidies from 1994 to 2007.

Shark Alliance Advert in European VoiceProhibiting at-sea removal of shark fins, and thereby requiring that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, may not prevent sharks from being killed but it is the simplest, most reliable and cost-effective means of implementing a finning ban. An increasing number of countries, scientists and politicians agree. This strategy also allows for improved, species-specific landings data, which are essential for assessing shark populations and fisheries management.

The EU finning ban is among the most lenient in the world. Since the EU finalised its finning ban in 2003, loopholes in shark finning regulations have undermined its effectiveness and set a poor standard for other countries as well as international policies.

Make the Final Push with Us

Please add your support to the EU Shark Journey website and email us at info@projectaware.org.uk with a Make the Push photo and we will be sure to get it uploaded. Follow the EU Shark Journey timeline to see how far we've come in closing loopholes in the European Shark Finning ban and voice your support to help us make the final push to protect sharks from finning.

We are now finally on the brink of a decision. Europe is home to 130 species of sharks, skates and rays and roughly one-third are classified as Threatened under the IUCN Red List.

Sharks have been waiting a long time for the end of shark finning in Europe, they can’t wait any longer.

Photo: Shark Alliance advert in the current European Voice in anticipation of the crucial 'fins-attached" vote in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee on Wednesday, September 19th.