The European Union just declared a strict ban on all shark finning anywhere in European waters. Finning 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. In particular, an exemption used by Spain and Portugal allowed some vessels to remove sharks’ fins at sea, which made it nearly impossible to detect and monitor the finning that was occurring. But with a complete ban now in effect, all sharks caught in European waters or by European vessels will have to be landed with their fins still attached.
Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year due to this savage act of finning where the sharks are caught, their fins are sliced off and they are thrown back in the ocean to bleed and die. This huge demand for shark fins arises due to the popularity of the shark fin soup! The fins contribute only to the texture and add no value in terms of taste or nutrition, ironically causing cruel deaths of many sharks just to keep a traditional delicacy alive.
“At long last, the EU has a real and enforceable ban on shark finning, with global implications,” commented Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “The EU catches more sharks than any country in the world, and plays a key role in regional fisheries management organizations where finning remains an acknowledged problem. After ten years with a flawed ban in place, it can now make a serious effort to tackle the issue internationally.”
Images courtesy of Oceana/Carlos Suarez