Last October, during European Shark Week, thousands of Italian citizens joined others across the EU in calling for greater protection for threatened sharks and to close the loopholes in the current EU finning Regulation.
"The Shark Alliance welcomes Mr. Zanoni’s sound report - and urges all other MEPs to strongly support its decided stance against wasteful shark finning,” said Serena Maso, national Italy coordinator of Shark Alliance.
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The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organization that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.
The high-value fin, in contrast to typically lower-value shark meat, creates the economic incentive for shark ‘finning'. The EU Regulation amending proposal, requiring that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, is not only the most reliable way to prevent finning but also allows for better species-specific data collection on shark catches, which are essential for population assessment and management.
Although the EU finning Regulation generally prohibits shark fin removal at sea, a derogation allows EU Member States to grant fishermen with ‘special fishing permits’ to remove fins on-board vessels, provided that the fin-to-carcass ratio limit do not exceed the 5% of the shark’s whole weight. This ratio results to be higher and more lenient compared to those adopted by other countries.
The permitted fishermen are allowed to land fins and carcasses at different times, in different ports, a practice that further hampers the Regulation enforcement. Germany and the United Kingdom recently stopped issuing these permits; Cyprus has recently issued one and Spain and Portugal grant them for most of their shark fishermen.
The European Commission has proposed an amendment to the finning ban which would end the option of special fishing permits, thereby requiring all sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached. The proposal is currently being considered by the European Parliament and Council of Fisheries Ministers from all 27 EU member states. The Environment Committee in Parliament will, after its vote on Mr Zanoni’s report, make its views known to the Fisheries Committee who have lead responsibility for the issue.
The 'fins naturally attached' method is encouraged by the IUCN (International Union for the Protection of Nature) and the United Nations, and is being used successfully in Central America, Australia and United States shark fisheries. Back to top