The Shark Alliance is marking Global Ocean Policy Day by calling on EU Fisheries Commissioner, Mr. Joe Borg, to strengthen one of the EU’s most important and far-reaching policies for sharks: the ban on "finning" (slicing off a shark’s valuable fins and discarding the body at sea).
“It’s up to the Commission to promptly deliver a legislative proposal to close loopholes in the finning ban and up to Mr. Borg to provide the leadership needed for Commission's follow through on this and other key commitments to shark conservation,” said Sonja Fordham, Shark Alliance Policy Director.
The European Commission released in February 2009 the long-awaited Community Plan of Action for Sharks, which sets the stage for sweeping improvements in EU shark policies, including the finning ban.
“The Shark Alliance appreciated the pledge to strengthen the EU finning ban that Mr. Borg made when releasing the EU Shark Plan. Since then, however, the Commission's main action on sharks has been to propose weakening of the Indian Ocean finning ban,” continued Fordham.
“At the same time, the Commission has been reluctant to commit to making the amendment of the EU finning ban a top priority, as urged by many EU Member States, scores of NGOs, and tens of thousands of European citizens,” Fordham concluded.
The EU (primarily Spain) is the lead supplier for the global shark fin trade, which is driven by demand for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. The EU finning ban is currently among the weakest in the world.
Most EU shark species have no protection beyond the finning ban.
Mona Samari, +44 (0) 7515 828 939
The Shark Alliance is a coalition of 70 conservation, scientific and diving organisations dedicated to improving EU shark policies, including the ban on finning.
The Shark Alliance was initiated by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life. The objective of Pew’s European Marine Programme is to support the European Union in ending global overfishing and reducing the destruction of the world´s oceans. Pew brings resources, leadership and coordination to the Shark Alliance.
In March, the Commission proposed that the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) replace the fin to carcass weight ratio limit used to enforce the regional finning ban with untested methods that involved containing shark fins in plastic bags. The move represented a complete departure from the EU Shark Plan.
More than 70 conservation, scientific, angling and diving organisations opposed these proposals because of concerns over enforcement and marine pollution. The proposals were defeated for other reasons.
Global Ocean Policy Day is an opportunity for dialogue among government officials, scientists and representatives of international organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. This year’s event is jointly organized the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, the United Nations Environment Programme and the government of Indonesia – world leader in shark catch and host of the 2009 IOTC meeting.