NGO and European fishing industry join voices in calling to eradicate shark finning in Atlantic

Press Release Date: November 12, 2014

Location: Madrid


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Cepesca and Oceana have called upon the 49 Contracting Parties to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) to close legal loopholes that still allow some fleets to carry out illegal finning of sharks (i.e., removing shark fins at sea while discarding the bodies), by adopting a measure requiring all sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached, such as Spanish surface longliners have been doing since July 2013.

Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe, stated, Shark finning continues to happen in the Atlantic Ocean, and ICCAT has failed too many times to put an end to this unacceptable practice. Contracting Parties such as the EU, Brazil, and the United States have already demonstrated their strong support for ‘fins-attached.’ This year, ICCAT needs to move beyond statements of support – countries should vote for action.”

“The Spanish fleet has never carried out the reprehensible practice of finning, since we market both shark carcasses and fins. However, we see fleets from other countries continuing to fin sharks, and we need standard regulations that apply to everyone, in the interests of fair competition. Therefore, we believe that the time has come for Contracting Parties to ICCAT to take this issue seriously, and to adopt a Recommendation this week that will require all Parties to land sharks with their fins still attached,” said Javier Garat, Secretary General of Cepesca.

The Spanish fleet accounts for the largest share (56%) of reported shark catches among all of the countries within the ICCAT Convention area (Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea). However, given the endemic problems of underreporting of shark catches by non-European fleets, and even non-reporting of catches by fleets that also participate actively in shark fishing, actual catches may be significantly higher, as has been indicated by ICCAT’s own scientific committee.

Contracting Parties to ICCAT are meeting in Genoa, Italy, from 10-17 November, to decide upon fisheries management measures for highly migratory species.