EU closes shark fisheries loopholes, goes “fins attached”

Oceana commends Parliamentarians for approving strict ban on shark finning

Press Release Date: November 22, 2012

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana applauds the European Parliament for voting today in favour of a strict ban on shark finning, which will require all sharks caught in EU waters, and by EU vessels fishing worldwide, to be landed with their fins still naturally attached.  The measure closes long-standing enforcement loopholes in EU policy on shark finning, will improve the collection of valuable data about shark catches, and will help to prevent the trade of fins from threatened shark species. The vote of the plenary session, in Strasbourg, represented the final hurdle to the adoption of the ‘fins-attached’ policy, which the European Council endorsed in March 2012.

Today, the European Parliament has closed an important chapter in the European history of shark conservation, by adopting a full ban on shark finning that will guarantee that this wasteful practice does not occur in the EU,” stated Xavier Pastor,  Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. The EU is finally accepting its responsibility as a major global player in shark fisheries and shark fin exports. It can now carry its head high in international fora, to continue fighting against shark finning worldwide, and to press for other important management measures that are currently lacking for sharks.

Note to the editor:

Shark finning – the practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea – has technically been prohibited in the EU since 2003, but an exemption allowed Member States to issue special permits for fishing vessels to remove shark fins on board, and made it extremely difficult to detect when finning has occurred.  The ‘fins-attached’ measure approved today will eliminate this exemption.

The EU catches sharks in the Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean, and Pacific Oceans. It is the largest shark fishing power in the world (with 17% of reported shark catches in 2009) and is the largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and mainland China.