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EU Eliminates ‘Special Permits’ For Shark Finning

EU Eliminates ‘Special Permits’ For Shark Finning

At long last, shark finning is on its way to becoming truly illegal in the European Union. Although the EU passed a law banning the cruel practice of de-finning sharks at sea in 2003, the issuing of Special Fishing Permits (SFPs) was a loophole that allowed it to continue in many areas.

In late November, members of the European Parliament voted to pass a European Commission proposal that would close these dangerous loopholes by discontinuing the issuance of the special permits. The resolution was adopted with 566 votes in favor, 47 against and 16 abstentions.

While this seems like a blessing for shark populations, it’s a mixed one. Under the Commission’s proposal, it’s the removal of fins at sea, not the act of killing a shark, that’s actually forbidden. First brought forth in 2011, the proposal states that “all vessels fishing in EU waters and all EU vessels fishing anywhere in the world will have to land sharks with the fins still attached. To facilitate storage and handling onboard vessels, fishermen will be permitted to slice partly through each fin and fold it against the carcass of the shark.”

So basically it’s still O.K. to kill these vital members of the marine ecosystem, but the negative impact will slow slightly because hunters won’t be able to fit as many in their boats at once.

BBC News reports that the EU’s global catch of sharks ranks second only to Indonesia. Sharks are valued for their meat, fins, skin, and cartilage, especially in Asian markets. This over-exploitation affects populations that are generally fragile and is leading some species to the brink of extinction. Shark finning is one of the cruelest fishing practices known to man because the fins are often removed while the animal is still alive. This done simply to conserve space in the boat–fins weigh less and take up less space in the hold. The shark is then thrown back into the sea where it inevitably drowns.

According to European Parliament data, the largest number of SFPs issued to date were to Spanish and Portuguese vessels (1,266 and 145 respectively, between 2004 and 2010). Until 2009, the UK, Germany and Lithuania had also issued SFPs.

The decision to back the European Commission’s plan now passes to the hands of EU ministers.

 

Related Reading:

Is The Media Driving Sharks To Extinction?

Global Celebrities Join The Fight To End Shark Finning

Sharks Have Brains Like…Ours

 

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82 comments

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3:57PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you Beth, for Sharing this!

3:36PM PST on Jan 8, 2013

I'm so disgusted. Asia specifically China have these pathetic and idiotic ideas in their barberic heads that certain animal and fish parts give their health and libido certain advantages by consuming,drinking and apllying these illegally,but more so,IMMORALLY. We need these sharks. They are vital to our eco-system. At a rate of 70 plus million sharks a year,well it's unsustainable. We need to act and stop this ASAP.

10:48AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

They should not be killing sharks anyway The oceans belong to the sea creatures not to humans who think they own every tree, animal, sea creature, rock and piece of land on earth How arrogant are humans we should be trying to keep the fragile balance of everything on this planet not just thinking about our greed, money ,food and exploitation of the earths resources

10:31AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Hope it works.

10:19AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

1:28AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Thanks, hope it works!

2:25PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Great news!

9:29AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

I really, really look forward to the day when humans go extinct and are no longer a factor for this universe to have to confront. Pity for the few caring good ones, but the human race as a whole has proven to be a destructive force which has no place in the world of life.

2:50PM PST on Dec 15, 2012

Shark finning is so blatantly cruel and yet it's done to satisfy the palates of one particular culture. :(

9:18AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

typical polyspeak, say one thing and mean another, on another note just were are sharks endangered, the last couple of years here in the east coast we see stories each year of bigger populations of sharks off our coast, but finning should be stopped completly and start with china and japan the 2 biggest groups that do finning

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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