EU: Shark finning ban remains on agenda after EP vote today
EPP Group in the European Parliament
19. September 2012
Shark Finning: removal of shark fins onboard vessels – controlled practice necessary.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves MEP
The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries adopted the Patrão Neves Report today on the removal of shark fins onboard vessels by 11 votes in favour, 10 against, and no abstentions. Although contradictory amendments were adopted, two major amendments proposed by the Rapporteur were adopted (amendments concerning the special fishing permits and the possibility, in some cases, to separate fins from the sharks’ carcasses).
The proposal by the European Commission considered that this practice should be banned because it may allow finning, i.e. discarding the bodies and keeping the fins. However shark finning has been forbidden in the EU since 2003 and there is no evidence that it has been practised by the EU fleet or in European waters.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves MEP, EP Rapporteur on the dossier, proposed specific measures for strengthening the control of the prohibition of finning, such as: the obligation to transship and land shark carcasses and fins together in the same port; the obligation for vessel owners to hire an independent body to carry out controls in the ports where local authorities are unable to; and the obligation of Masters of freezer vessels to keep detailed records. MEPs on the Fisheries Committee disagreed with these proposals today and voted against them.
“The proposal by the Commission would increase costs and induce economic losses, with serious social-economic consequences for this activity. Indeed, it would imply a significant decrease in the storing capacity of the fishing vessels, together with a marked increase in the costs related to handling, processing, freezing and de-freezing the sharks, both onboard and after reaching the fishing port. Moreover, de-freezing the sharks has direct consequences in terms of food quality and safety and also consumer health, which would be reflected in a decrease of the current value of the carcasses and fins”, said Mrs Patrão Neves.
According to the Rapporteur, this derogation should be narrowed by issuing special fishing permits allowing the removal of shark fins only to freezer fishing vessels, in order to ensure a more efficient use of all shark parts by separate processing of carcasses and fins onboard, as well as preserving food quality and protecting consumer health.
Rapporteur Patrão Neves also advocated the implementation of a Plan of Action for Sharks, which the majority of MEPs, surprisingly, voted against today. This would have obliged fishermen to conduct self-sampling and report data on the shark catches (total number and total estimated weight per shark species, fork length for the major shark species), thus providing valuable scientific information for both conservation and management of shark populations.
The Report is scheduled to be voted in plenary in October 2012.
For further information:
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845897
Sandra Carreira, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-470-830567
Source: EPP Group.