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EU Shark Finning Ban

After 6 years of campaigning and debate, the European Parliament voted to close loopholes in the European Union ban on shark finning. Shark finning is slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea. Pretty gruesome!

The EU, which is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia, banned finning in 2003, but in a loophole, companies with freezer vessels applied for special fishing permits which would allowed them to continue if they landed the fins separately from the bodies.

After years of debate, the Members of the European Parliament finally voted overwhelmingly in favor of the European Commission’s proposal to impose the best practice for finning ban enforcement. This would prohibit the removing shark fins at sea. The measure faced formidable opposition from representatives of Spain and Portugal, Europe’s leaders in catch of oceanic sharks.

Two years ago, after sustained pressure from Shark Alliance coalition of which Project AWARE is a steering group member, EU Fisheries Ministers endorsed a sound plan of action for shark conservation.

The plan sets the stage for sweeping improvements in shark policies. With urgent steps to enforce science-based limits on shark fisheries before populations collapse and to provide special protections for endangered shark species. The seven threatened species which are listed under the global CMS treaty: great white, whale, basking, shortin mako, longfin mako, spiny dogfish (Northern hemisphere), and porbeagle sharks.

Following a public consultation, Monday 21st November 2011, the European Commission announced a proposal to strengthen the EU ban on shark “finning‟, by removing the derogation that allows Member States to apply for special fishing permits.

Hoping that the EU’s influence on international fisheries and policies along with developing countries, the closure of loopholes in the EU shark finning ban, will help increase the structure and safety of the sharks in our international waters.

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