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Back in March this year, we reported that although several EU member states advocated for a full ban on shark fishing, they faced strong opposition from countries including France and Spain.
Now, the European Parliament is finally moving towards a blanket ban on shark finning by voting with an overwhelming 566-47 margin to close a loophole in EU rules, which allow fishermen with special permits to land shark bodies and their more valuable fins at different ports – provided they comply with a fin-to-carcass limit of 5 percent.
The demand for shark fin soup as well as the use of shark fins in different eastern remedies has resulted in near-extinction for several species of sharks. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup.
Sharks are especially vulnerable to over-exploitation because they mature late and give birth to small numbers of young and EU nations currently represent 14 percent of the world’s shark catches.
“We congratulate the European Commission for leadership in this long effort and extend our gratitude to the 25 EU Fisheries Ministers and hundreds of MEPs who supported a stronger EU finning ban, as well as the tens of thousands of European citizens who encouraged them to do so,” said Sandrine Polti, EU shark policy adviser for the Pew Environment Group and policy adviser for the Shark Alliance, a coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to science-based shark conservation. The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The new European Parliament proposal is a giant leap in the right direction, but needs approval of EU member states to be enforced as law.
Image Source: StormyDog/Flickr