In a big win for sharks, the European Union earlier this week finally adopted a strict ban on shark finning.
Officially shark finning, a process whereby fins are harvested from living sharks, has been illegal in the EU since 2003. However, as we reported in late 2012, loopholes and exemptions in the law allowed the process to continue. Now, at long last, the process has been outlawed once and for all.
Under the previous law, EU Member States were allowed to issue “special permits“ for fishing vessels to remove shark fins on board.
In 2012, 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.
Although it was a step in the right direction, the proposal didn’t solve the issue of shark finning directly, since it only prohibited the removal of fins at sea, not the hunting and killing of sharks, which could later be de-finned on land.
Now, with the new regulation in place, conservationists finally have a law that can make a difference for these vital members of the marine ecosystem.
“At long last, the EU has a real and enforceable ban on shark finning, with global implications,” commented Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe, in a press release.
“The EU catches more sharks than any country in the world and plays a key role in regional fisheries management organizations where finning remains an acknowledged problem,” the statement continues. ”After ten years with a flawed ban in place, it can now make a serious effort to tackle the issue internationally.”
Care2 Success: It’s thanks to millions of concerned citizens around the world that the European Union was not allowed to continue with a toothless shark fin law for too long. Thousands of Care2 members signed petitions like this one, asking the EU to reevaluate its stance on shark finning, and outlaw the practice permanently.
Thanks to dedicated community members like you, the sharks will now have a fighting chance in European waters. But the battle doesn’t end here.
“Now that the finning ban has finally been amended, it’s time for the EU to focus on other, equally important measures to reduce fisheries threats to sharks,” added Dr. Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist with Oceana. “The EU’s Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, adopted in 2009, laid out a broad suite of actions that were – and remain – necessary for these vulnerable fish.”
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