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November 21, 2011

A Happy day for sharks

© OCEANA / LX Shark fins loaded from a drifting longliner. Harbour of Las Palmas, Canary islands, Spain. January 2008.


Three cheers for sharks! We’ve got some good news for shark lovers out there:

First of all, today the European Commission presented their proposal for amending the EU shark finning ban to require that all sharks to be landed with their fins still attached. Shark finning is technically banned in European waters and by EU vessels, but the loophole, which allowed vessels to land sharks with the fins separated from their bodies, created a situation wherein it was incredibly difficult to even detect whether finning is occurring, to enforce the legislation, to identify caught species and to gather critical data about the status of shark populations. We are thrilled to see that the Commission has understood the absolute need for a “fins attached” requirement.

The other good news comes out of ICCAT, the conclusion of which saw increased protection for silky sharks – the shark species most vulnerable to overfishing by Atlantic longline fisheries. The new measure requires that all silky sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries, excluding those caught by developing coastal countries for local consumption, must be released. We were quite pleased by this outcome of ICCAT, though we are not happy with ICCAT’s failure to protect Mediterranean swordfish from overfishing…but that is another issue.

Globally, up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the demand of the international shark fin market. EU nations combined catch the second-largest share of sharks – 14% of the world’s reported shark catches. These victories for the sharks are much needed and quite timely.