Report by Shark Info
On August 6, 2002, the European Commission suggested that finning be
prohibited. Finning means cutting off a shark’s fins and
throwing the rest of its body back into the sea. This practice is
promoted by the lucrative international market for shark fins, but
results in the death of a huge number of sharks. Shark fins are the
main ingredient of shark fin soup, an Asian specialty which sells up
to 150 francs (100 euros) per cup.
The Commission suggests that finning be prohibited within all
European waters and for all European ships, even when they fish
outside of EU regions. It hopes that this prohibition will induce
regional fishery associations to also take this measure.
Within the past two years, Australia and the U.S. have forbidden
finning in their territorial waters. The practice of finning
contradicts the recommendations of various international fishery
agreements and is also condemned in the International Plan of Action
for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA Sharks) of the
“We support the better integration of environmental protection
in our common fishery policies”, says Franz Fischer, the
responsible commissioner for agriculture, rural development and
fishery. Fischer added that – based on the problems with
identifying single fins – the Commission suggests extending
the prohibition to all elasmobranch fish (cartilaginous fish), i.e.
to all sharks and rays. “However, the fins of rays could not
be affected by the prohibition because the objective of the ban is
that the greater part of the animal is used (with rays their fins,
Editor’s note) and the fins of rays would be easily
identifiable”, the Commission claims. The Commission does,
however, recognize legitimate shark fishery which guarantees the
complete utilization of the catch.
Finning would be allowed if the removal of the fins on board the
vessel were part of a utilization process which would allow the more
efficient processing of all parts of the caught shark. And if this
were the case, EU member states would have to issue and administer
the respective special fishing permits, and fishermen would have to
maintain a respective logbook containing comprehensive relevant data
to ensure that all parts of the shark are used.
Statistics from the UN World Food Organization show that over 100
million sharks are caught annually. However, shark fishing is
generally very poorly documented and regulated. The Commission
stated that until detailed scientific data is available which makes
it possible to introduce regulations to better protect the fished
shark species, these measures would help to maintain existing shark
populations. The suggestion to ban finning will now be submitted to
the EU Fishery Ministers’Council for a decision.
ENS (Brüssel) / Shark Info
last change: 06-04-2016 10:48