Ocean News

Absolute EU Ban on Shark Finning Gains Momentum

18th December 2010

In October this year, numerous events during European Shark Week 2010 aimed to raise awareness of Europe’s contribution to the shark fin trade and prompt people to encourage their local MEPs to support a Written Declaration that proposes to prohibit the removal of shark fins on board vessels. By December 16th, 423 Members of the European Parliament had signed Written Declaration 71/2010, exceeding the number of members required for a majority by 54. The declaration has subsequently been adopted by the Plenary of the European Parliament who will forward it, with the names of the signatories, to the European Commission.

This is excellent progress towards developing sustainable management of shark populations in European waters and highlights just how effective awareness campaigns such as European Shark Week can be. During European Shark Week 34,333 postcards and petition signatures were gathered by aquariums, dive centres and schools and sent to MEPs, with many more people writing personally to their MEPs in support of the declaration. By clicking here, you can see a full list of MEPs who have signed the written declaration. For more information on how you can help, visit www.europeansharkweek.org.

There is even more good news for sharks in Europe this week, as the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers decided to end all fishing for spurdog, maintain closure of the porbeagle fishery through 2011 and reduce quoatas for skates and rays. More details on these decisions can be found here, and a full copy of the Shark Alliance’s press release regarding the progress of Written Declaration 71/2010 can be found below:

A full copy of the press release from the Shark Alliance can be found copied below.

The European Parliament today endorsed a resolution on shark finning that calls on the Commission to deliver a proposal to prohibit the removal of shark fins on-board vessels.’

Four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): Jean-Paul Besset, Chris Davies, Sirpa Pietikäinen, and Daciana Octavia Sârbu, from the ALDE, EPP-DE, Greens-EFA and S&D groups launched Written Declaration 71/2010 on shark finning on 20 September. By 16 December, over 400 of the 736 MEPs had added their names, achieving a majority. The Written Declaration is now adopted by the Plenary of the European Parliament. Endorsed as a Resolution of the Parliament, it will be forwarded to the European Commission, who last month launched a public consultation on options for amending the regulation, including a ban on at-sea fin removal.

“The removal of fins on board vessels and discarding the carcass is a wasteful and unacceptable way to fish. Europe is home to some of the world’s largest fishing fleets and poor European shark policies with lack of enforcement pose threats to sharks not only in European waters but in other parts of the world. The shark finning ban needs to be enforced effectively and we welcome this support from MEPs from across all European member states and political groups”, stated Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Finland, from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).

“I would like to thank EU citizens for encouraging us to take action. It sends a powerful message to EU decision makers that these valuable yet vulnerable species must be protected”, added Jean-Paul Besset MEP, France, from the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

“The current exploitation of the world’s oceans is unsustainable and we need to act now to preserve marine biodiversity. Sharks are crucial to the natural balance of marine ecosystem, and this Resolution is a positive step towards their much needed protection”, explained Daciana Sarbu MEP, Romania from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

“The EU Commission now needs to propose legislation as soon as possible in 2011 with the one truly reliable option for preventing finning – a complete prohibition of the removal of shark fins at sea”, stated Chris Davies MEP, UK, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group.

Sharks’ tendency to grow slowly, mature late and/or produce a small number of young makes them exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing. Roughly one-third of European species are considered threatened.

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. The Shark Alliance was pleased to support MEPs in this initiative.