ESW2011 – The EU has unFINished business for sharks


The gist
For five years, the Shark Alliance, European Union (EU) fisheries and environment officials, and members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been discussing the need to better protect sharks. While safeguards to prevent shark overfishing are evolving gradually, the flawed EU regulation that bans the wasteful practice of ‘finning’ (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea) has yet to be amended. At long last, we are in the final stages of the crucial
finning debate, but your voice is needed – now more than ever – to ensure policy makers resist industry pressure and protect sharks, once and for all.

The EU has made significant progress towards shark conservation since 2006, but there is still much important “unFINished” business. In fact, more than two years after EU fishery ministers endorsed a sound Action Plan for sharks, several targeted shark fisheries are continuing without catch limits, many endangered shark and ray species are woefully under-protected, and the EU finning ban still has huge loopholes that make it possible to fin sharks without
dection or punishment.

In particular, a derogation in the EU finning regulation that allows permitted EU fishermen to remove shark fins at sea and land them separately from shark bodies creates serious challenges for enforcing the finning ban. Based on success in countries around the world and advice from scientists, enforcement officials and conservationists, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends governments end all at-sea shark fin removal.
Such ‘fins naturally attached’ policies not only maximize the enforceability of finning bans, but also facilitate the collection of species-specific data on shark catches that are sorely needed for population assessment and management.

The EU Shark Action Plan also includes commitments to ensure shark and ray fisheries are sustainable and to better protect endangered species of sharks and rays. Yet, there are still no limits in place for the main targets of EU shark fisheries (blue and mako sharks), and, in most European countries, endangered species (such as hammerheads and giant devil rays) lack any specific, national protections.

Sharks play essential roles as top ocean predators and EU policies affect sharks all over the world.

Your voice is the key to balancing short-term interests and ensuring that the EU Shark Action Plan is implemented for the benefit of sharks, marine ecosystems, and the EU public good.
It is especially important that — after all this time — the EU shark finning debate culminates in beneficial, enforceable regulation rather than with the continuation of troubling exceptions for some of the world’s largest shark fishing fleets.

Please sign our petition urging EU fisheries ministers to protect sharks from overexploitation
and finning now.