|Spain, consistently among the top five shark fishing countries in the world, was the first EU country to adopt a ban on shark finning (2002) and the only one to provide national protection to all species of hammerheads and threshers.
Spanish government and fishery representatives, however, have been the EU's most vocal opponents to strengthening the EU finning ban by ending at-sea shark fin removal.
|Spain ranks 1st in the EU and 3rd in the world for average catch of ‘sharks’ (including skates and rays) from 2000 to 2008, with 60,000 tonnes (t). Spanish fishermen take sharks from most of the world’s oceans, but the majority of their catches are from the Atlantic.
Records for EU waters (Northeast Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea), reveal Spanish catches of 35 ‘shark’ species, primarily blue shark and shortfin mako. Various shark and ray species are often grouped together in one category rather than by species.
Spanish fishermen have continued to land basking sharks since the EU prohibited take of the species in 2006. Substantial amounts of cuckoo and thornback rays were reported in Spanish catches for the first time in 2009. Rays account for around 30% of Spain’s total catches in EU waters.
Spain does not record shark fins separately from other products. From 2001 to 2005, Spain’s ‘shark’ exports fell due to a drop in the market for frozen shark products. Imports of both frozen and fresh ‘shark’ products rose during that time, but have declined since.
|Only 12 of the 50 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from Spain signed Written Declaration 71/2010 in support of strengthening the European Union ban on shark finning.
Download a list of Spanish MEPs who signed Written Declaration 71/2010
Only one of the four Spanish MEPs serving on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee signed this Declaration, reflecting the strong influence of Spain’s vast fishing industry.
The Parliament’s Fisheries Committee is chaired by Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato Adrover (EPP). The previous chair, Carmen Fraga Estévez (EPP)also from Spain, has been a vocal opponent to strengthening the EU finning ban since 2006. Spanish MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda (Greens/EFA), a member of the Fisheries Committee who supported the Written Declaration, was named 2010 MEP of the Year by the Association of Parliamentary Journalists in Spain.
Spain has a relatively large number of votes (27) in the EU Fisheries Council and has considerable influence in this important decision making body.
EU delegations to international fisheries negotiations are regularly dominated by representatives from Spain.
|Spain is one of only a few EU countries to issue the special permits that allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea through a derogation of the current EU finning regulation. Spain has issued the largest number of these permits, enough to allow its whole long distance longline fleet to derogate from the EU regulation that otherwise bans shark fin removal at sea.
Spain has been slow to fulfill its annual obligation to report on the application of the regulation and only recently allowed public access to its annual reports.
Members of the Spanish longline fishing industry and thus most Spanish policy makers vehemently oppose the notion of ending at-sea removal of shark fins, despite the widely recognized benefits for finning ban enforcement.
Spanish industry representatives and fishery managers have failed to live up to a 2008 public pledge to conduct a pilot study on the feasibility of fishermen aboard freezer vessels cutting and folding (but not removing) shark fins at sea.
Spain has taken several steps to protect sharks on a national basis, beyond EU commitments.
In 2009, Spain became the first
(and - to date - the only) EU Member State to ban fishing for all species of thresher and hammerhead sharks.
In February 2011, Spain prohibited all capture, injury, and trade of these species as well as the giant devil ray, an endangered species slated for protection under the Barcelona Convention.This rule also protected the basking and white shark, which are prohibited species under EU regulation.
In February 2012, Spain granted protection to eleven additional shark and ray species, which will be added to the List of Wild Species under Special Protection. These protected shark and ray species feature the Mediterranean stocks of: sand tiger shark, smalltooth sand tiger shark, white skate (Rostroraja alba), spiny butterfly ray (Gymnura altavela), sawfishes (Pristis pristis and P. pectinata), angular rough shark (Oxynotus centrina), angel shark (Squatina squatina), sawback angel shark (Squatina aculeata) and smoothback angel shark (Squatina
oculata), all of them also included in the Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean.
|Find out about Spanish members of the Shark Alliance on our members' pages.
01.03.2012 EU Shark Finning Regulation Debated in European Parliament Read
19.10.2011 Shark Alliance entrega una propuesta para proteger a seis nuevas especies de tiburones y rayas Read
|Concerned citizens, particularly those of Spain, can help by expressing to Spanish officials support for, among other measures:
- continued complete closure of EU porbeagle, spurdog, and deepwater shark fisheries
- leadership toward EU and international protections for hammerheads and giant devil rays
- additional national protections for endangered shark and ray species, and
- recording of shark and ray landings and trade by species and product
- an end to opposition to an EU-wide ban on at-sea shark fin removal.