European Council backs shark finning ban
THE EUROPEAN UNION
Brussels, 19 March 2012
The Council positions itself against the removal of fins of sharks on
The Council adopted a general approach whereby it supports landing of all sharks with
their fins attached as proposed by the Commission (6719/2/12).
The controversial practice of “shark finning” (whereby the fins are removed from sharks,
with the remainder of the shark being discarded at sea) has been forbidden on EU fishing
vessels since 2003. However, a derogation still persists allowing with special fishing
permits the processing on board, whereby shark fins can be removed from the carcasses
(landing of fins and the remainder of the shark together or separatly). The Commission
proposal aims to suppress this derogation which would mean sharks can only be landed
with their fins attached.
Sharks, skates and rays are generally very vulnerable to overexploitation due to their life
cycle characteristics of slow growth, late maturity and small number of young. In recent
years, some shark populations have been severely targeted and put under serious threat as a
result of a dramatic increase in demand for shark products, fins in particular. “Shark
finning” has increased in recent years largely due to a strong demand for shark fin soup and
traditional cures in Asia. While this practice is forbidden in EU waters and on EU vessels,
the still possible processing on board has cast doubts about the effectiveness of controls -
which relies on carcase-to-fin weight ratios – and impedes the improvement of landing
statistics, the latter being necessary to allow for science-based management of shark
In fishery issues, Member State consider that the EU policies should be based on scientific
advice. In this case, the Scientific, Technical, and Economic Committee for Fisheries
(STECF) has confirmed the appropriateness of a finning ban, and has called for improving
the accuracy of landings statistis on sharks; this could be achieved in the most straightforward
way by landing sharks together with their fins. The STECF is the scientific body
assisting the EU in the implementation of the CFP in the fields of marine biology, marine
ecology, fisheries science, fishing gear technology and fishery economics.
The Council now awaits the position in first reading of the European Parliament, before it
will formalise its position.
Source: Council of the European Union
Note: Previous related post 21. Nov 2011 EU Commission proposes full shark finning ban