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UK Minister Dives into Shark Conservation

Project AWARE News

Today, Richard Benyon, UK Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, swam with sharks at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium in support of strengthening the EU ban on shark ‘finning’ (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea).

The swim launches a Shark Trust initiative asking MEPs and aquariums across the country to work together to show their support for tighter shark finning regulations ahead of crucial votes this autumn.

In March this year, the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers adopted a position in favour of a proposal to strengthen the EU finning ban by requiring that all sharks be landed with their ‘fins naturally attached’. The UK championed the proposal with only Spain and Portugal opposing. The European Parliament Fisheries Committee will vote on the issue in September before it is submitted to a vote in plenary in October.

Suzanne Pleydell Meets with UK Politicians at the London AquariumAli Hood, Richard Benyon, Suzanne Pleydell, Julie Girling

Project AWARE - a steering group member of the Shark Alliance, a global, not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies - strongly supports the European Commission's proposal to move from a fin-to-carcass ratio policy to a fins naturally attached policy with no exceptions – the best, most efficient and enforceable method to prevent finning.

The Minister explained: “We oppose shark finning and the ban that is currently in place is far too lenient.  The UK already requires all sharks to be landed with their fins attached and now Europe needs to follow our lead and listen to the 165,000 people who petitioned for a stronger ban.”

With European vessels contributing around a third of the fins to the Hong Kong fin trade, the Shark Alliance have been steadfast about science based shark conservation and a tightened ban on ‘finning’ for many years.

Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust and Project AWARE’s partner in the Shark Alliance steering committee and the lead behind the initiative, commented: “Only two EU member states, Spain and Portugal, continue to remove shark fins at sea and it is time for Europe to bring its regulation in line with other nations who have adopted more effective management regimes.”

Several UK Members of the European Parliament have been vocal in their support for the proposed change, intervening in heated debates.

“The European Parliament first called for a strengthened finning ban in 2006 and reaffirmed our commitment in 2010” pointed out Julie Girling, MEP for the Southwest and Gibraltar, who accompanied the Minister on the swim.  “After six years of debate, we must take the opportunity we have this autumn to show we have listened to scientists, conservationists, and the public, and insist that sharks are landed with their fins attached.”

Stay tuned this fall as Project AWARE, the Shark Trust, and all of our Shark Alliance partners make the final push to close the loop for sharks.


Images © Shark Alliance/Andre Camara. 
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