Rome — The Shark Alliance is marking European Maritime Day by calling on EU Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, to strengthen one of the EU’s most important and far-reaching policies for sharks: the ban on "finning" (slicing off the fins and tossing the body at sea).
Italy leads the EU in import of shark products. The EU is the top 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. During his visit to Rome this week for European Maritime Day, Commissioner Borg is expected to highlight his plans to combat illegal fishing and improve control and enforcement in EU fisheries.
“It’s up to the Commission to promptly deliver a legislative proposal to improve enforcement of the EU 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, Policy Director for the Shark Alliance. “Since the pledge to strengthen the EU finning ban that Mr. Borg made with the February release of the EU Shark Plan, the Commission has been reluctant to commit to making the amendment of the ban a top priority, as urged by many EU Member States, scores of NGOs, and tens of thousands of European citizens.”
Scientists have reported population declines of 97-99% for several Mediterranean shark populations. More than 40% of Mediterranean shark and ray species are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Threatened with extinction.
The European Commission’s Community Plan of Action for Sharks sets the stage for sweeping improvements in EU shark policies, including the finning ban. The impetus for the Plan came from the 1999 Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) International Plan of Action for Sharks.
“Ten years ago, Rome was the site of the adoption of the International Plan of Action for Sharks, when the EU and fishing nations around the world pledged to conserve sharks,” added Fordham. “We urge Italy to help revitalize this important initiative by promoting prompt implementation of the EU Shark Plan, starting with a stronger 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.