EC proposes full ban on shark finning

22 Nov 2011
Shark fins. Credit: NOAA

Shark fins. Credit: NOAA

The European Commission has proposed to forbid shark finning aboard fishing vessels.

Shark finning is the practice of cutting off the fins of sharks (often while they are still alive) and then throwing the shark back into the sea.

The Commission has proposed that from now on, 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. The aim of the new rules is to better protect vulnerable shark populations.

The Commission says that this proposal strengthens the existing EU legislation banning shark finning, which allows by exemption and under certain conditions, to remove fins aboard and to land fins and shark carcasses in different ports. The Commission proposes that this should no longer be possible. As a consequence, EU Member States will no longer be able to issue special fishing permits, so that vessels flying their flag can fin sharks on board.

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "By closing the loophole in our legislation, we want to eradicate the horrendous practice of shark finning and protect sharks much better. Control will become easier and shark finning much more difficult to hide. I very much look forward to the Council and the European Parliament accepting our proposal, so that it becomes law as soon as possible."

The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and the Council for final adoption, and will enter into force soon after.

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