In Bergen – the EU today became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sharks.
At the same time, in Brussels, the EC announced a proposal to strengthen the EU ban on shark “finning”.
The EU is currently one of the world’s largest suppliers of shark fins to Asia, largely because of the volume exported by Spain and Portugal.
“Today the EU has taken two major steps for sharks that demonstrate continued progress in European policy and offer new hope for safeguarding these vulnerable species on a global scale,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, who is attending the CMS meeting. “We call on the EU Council and Parliament to promptly adopt the European Commission?s finning ban proposal and encourage all fishing nations to fully engage in ensuring CMS shark conservation initiatives succeed.”
After years of debate, the European Commission has proposed an amendment to the EU shark finning ban that would close loopholes stemming from special permits that allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea by mandating that all shark fins remain attached.
The “fins naturally attached” policy is supported by most conservationists and scientists, and is in place for most U.S. and Central American fisheries; unsurprisingly it has been opposed by officials in Spain, whose fishermen rank 3rd in the world for shark catches.
EU director of Humane Society International Joanna Swabe warned: "It is imperative that no attempt be made by any EU member states or MEPs to water down this legislative proposal. A ‘fins-naturally-attached’ policy, without exception, is the only way to end the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning."
The proposal will now be considered by EC Fisheries Ministers and the European Parliament in a process that is expected to last at least six months.