|Italy is the EU’s top consumer of shark meat and the fourth largest importer of shark products in the world (10,450 tonnes in 2008).
Rome serves as the headquarters for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the body that created the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for Sharks in 1999, which eventually led to the EU Plan of Action for Sharks (in 2009).
|Italy’s ‘shark’ catches are dominated by smoothhounds; significant numbers of blue sharks and threshers are also taken. These main species are essentially unregulated in terms of Italian fisheries.
The majority of Italy’s catch comes from the Mediterranean. This was the case even before 1995, when landings from the Atlantic dropped to zero.
The IUCN has reported that the Mediterranean has an exceptionally high percentage of threatened shark and ray species (roughly 40%).
Italy’s shark exports are very low, but the country consistently imports more shark (catsharks, dogfish, and larger unspecified species) than any other EU Member State.
With 72 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Italy has one of the largest representations in the Parliament. Sixty percent (43) of these MEPs signed the Written Declaration 71/2010 in support of strengthening the European Union ban on shark finning.Download a list of Italian MEPs who signed Written Declaration 71/2010
Three Italian MEPs serve on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee. The Committee’s Vice Chair, Guido Milana (S&D), is an Italian MEP who signed the Written Declaration.
Italian MEP, Andrea Zanoni, is rapporteur for the Environment Committee’s opinion report on the proposal to amend the EU finning ban. His draft report strongly supported the Commission’s call for all sharks to be landed with fins naturally attached.
Italy is one of four EU Member States with 29 votes in the EU Fisheries Council, and therefore has considerable influence in this important decision making body.
Italy does not issue any special permits to allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea through a derogation of the current EU finning regulation and, therefore, Italian fishermen are required to land sharks with their fins still attached.
After several years of debate around the need to improve the EU finning ban, it is only recently that Italy has spoken out in support for the “fins-naturally-attached” policy as the best policy for enforcement.
At the March 2012 EU Fisheries Council, Italy supported the Commission’s proposal to require all sharks to be landed with fins attached.
|Beyond measures to implement EU shark and ray policies, there are no national shark and ray protections in Italy. This is despite numerous obligations under the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea to regulate and/or prevent fishing for a variety of threatened ‘shark’ species, such as the giant devil ray and the sandtiger shark. In September 2011, however, the Italian Environment Minister launched an initiative to implement a National Plan of Action for Sharks, which should include examination of endangered shark and ray species and related EU and international obligations for protection.
||Find out more about Italian members of the Shark Alliance by visiting our member pages.
29.02.2012 Shark Alliance joins Italian MEP in urging European Parliament to support closing the loopholes in EU ban on shark finning Read
|Concerned citizens, particularly those of Italy, can help by expressing to Italian officials support for, among other measures:
- continued complete closure of EU porbeagle, spurdog, and deepwater shark fisheries
- fulfilment of Barcelona Convention commitments on shark and ray conservation
- immediate national protections for all endangered shark and ray species, and
- recording of shark and ray landings and trade by species and product
- active promotion for an EU-wide ban on at-sea shark fin removal.