European Commission mulls strengthening shark-finning ban

17 November 2010

A public consultation document released November 15 by the European Commission includes an option to amend the EU ban on shark-finning. Two years ago, the EU pledged to strengthen the ban on the practice of slicing the fins from a shark on board a fishing vessel and discarding the rest of the carcass at sea.

The practice stems from the fact that fins fetch a much higher price than shark meat, as high as hundreds of dollars a pound. Finning contributes to a waste of resources and an incentive to kill more sharks per vessel—the volume and weight of fins alone are much less than for the entire body of the fish.

The option proposed in the consultation document would substantially strengthen the current regulation whose loopholes allow fishers to fin an estimated two of three sharks. Although forbidden by regulation, the practice is made possible by a dispensation that lets member states grant special “transformation” permits to allow the fishers to remove the fins on board the vessels.

Most scientists agree that requiring sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached to their body is by far the best way to implement finning bans. Not only would such a policy result in visible improvement of enforcement, it would also facilitate data collection about catch numbers, species by species, that is crucial to evaluating and managing shark populations.

As reported by Shark Alliance
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