Europe Parliament vote shark finning ban

23 November 2012

European Parliament voted yesterday, November 22, to close loopholes in the European Union ban on shark finning (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea). The measure faced formidable opposition from representatives of Spain and Portugal, Europe’s leaders in catch of oceanic sharks.

Members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the European Commission’s proposal to impose the best practice for finning ban enforcement: a prohibition on removing shark fins at sea. The EU banned finning in 2003, but the associated regulation includes loopholes that allow shark fins to be removed on board and landed separately from shark bodies, which hampers enforcement.

Strong finning bans are fundamental to effective shark fisheries management, but finning bans alone are not sufficient to save sharks. The next important step for shark conservation will be the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) whose Parties meet in March 2013. Members will consider proposals to list commercially valuable, threatened shark species, including porbeagles, hammerheads, and oceanic whitetips.