Saturday

27th May 2017

EU bans practice of chopping off shark fins

  • Fins still attached (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The European Commission on Monday (21 November) announced a full ban on "shark finning" - the practice in which fishermen cut off the dorsal fin of a shark and throw it back into the water, often while it is still alive.

"We want to eradicate the horrendous practice of shark finning and protect sharks better," said EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki in a statement.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Shark fin is a prized ingredient for soup in China and growth in the country's middle-class has sent global demand soaring.

Accurate estimates are difficult to come by. The UN says 10 million sharks a year - almost 30,000 a day - are currently being finned. But conservationists say the true figure is much higher.

Meanwhile, several shark species are in danger of extinction.

"The EU's new rule is a big step forward for shark fishery management as it will make it easier to monitor and regulate some of the world's largest shark fisheries," says Shelley Clarke, a fish scientist based in Japan and a former associate researcher at Imperial College in London.

EU waters, in particular those of Spain and Portugal, are among the world's largest suppliers of shark fin to the Asian markets.

The new rule, which will still have to be approved by the European parliament and national ministers in the course of the coming year, declares: "All vessels fishing in EU waters and all EU vessels fishing anywhere in the world will have to land sharks with the fins still attached."

The idea is that fishermen will not want to lug around low-value shark carcasses just to fin them when they get to shore and will switch to catching different fish.

The practice of finning as such has been banned since 2003, but "a huge loophole" in the current EU regulation, according to Sandrine Polti of the Shark Alliance, a coalition of global shark-conservation groups, allowed member states to process sharks on board and take shark fins and bodies to separate ports.

"It is one of the weakest regulations in the world," she said.

The fishing industry, meanwhile, is less happy.

"We are very surprised and disappointed," said Guy Vernaeve of Europeche, the EU association of fishing enterprises. "We are against the practice of finning when it concerns tossing the body back into sea. But we did ask to be able to separate the fins from the body onboard and take them to separate ports, because they end up in different commercial circuits. The fins go to Asia, the meat goes to Europe."

The article originally said the regulation would be applicable immediately. This was corrected on Tuesday (22 November) to say that parliament and member states have to agree the new law first.

Opinion

EU's new fisheries policy: throwing a lifeline to the oceans.

European consumers eat nearly twice the fish that our oceans can provide, our over-subsidized fleet is too big, too powerful and not selective enough, writes Xavier Pastor ahead of the talks to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.

Trump delays climate decision

The White House said it would take more time to decide if the US should remain part of the Paris climate agreement, while talks are underway in Bonn.

Investigation

EU weed-killer evidence 'written by Monsanto'

The EU's favourable opinion of the weed-killer chemical glyphosate was partially based on scientific evidence heavily influenced by weed-killer manufacturer Monsanto.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms