Saturday

6th Jun 2020

EU bans practice of chopping off shark fins

  • Fins still attached (Photo: Wikipedia)

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

Romania, EU's largest exporter of live farm animals to third-countries, gets singled out in the latest European Commission report for bad practices - following the drowning of more than 14,000 sheep last November.

EU alliance calls for green recovery plan

Some 180 European politicians, business leaders, MEPs and environmental activists have called for green recovery investment packages to develop "a new model of prosperity" after the pandemic ends.

Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU

Europe is on the verge of allowing centralisation and concentration of farming data at an unprecedented scale, with the absence of any regulation, NGO Friends of the Earth have warned.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

Romania, EU's largest exporter of live farm animals to third-countries, gets singled out in the latest European Commission report for bad practices - following the drowning of more than 14,000 sheep last November.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us