United Nations encourages shark conservation, stronger bans on finning

Conservationists urge EU to abide

United Nations encourages shark conservation, stronger bans on finning

Brussels – The Shark Alliance is applauding ground-breaking calls for shark conservation adopted last night by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and is highlighting its relevance for the European Union (EU).  The new text, agreed as part of the annual UNGA Fisheries Resolution, calls on fishing nations and international fisheries organisations to urgently adopt science-based measures - such as limits on shark catch and fishing effort - and to take immediate and concerted action to improve implementation of existing shark measures.

The Resolution makes specific mention of shark finning - the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s valuable fins and discarding the body at sea - and encourages requirements that sharks be landed with their fins still attached to their bodies.  Scientists have repeatedly recommended this "fins-attached” strategy as the best method for preventing finning and for collecting the species-specific shark catch information needed for population assessments.

"Last night’s United Nations Sustainable Fisheries Resolution is directly applicable to the shark conservation crisis in the European Union, where most shark fishing is unregulated and the finning ban is fraught with loopholes," said Sonja Fordham, Shark Alliance Policy Director. "The EU has agreed to the UNGA Resolution and must take steps in 2008 to abide by it.  Development of an EU Plan of Action for Sharks must include science-based fishing limits and map out shark population recovery.  By simply adopting the fins-attached policy encouraged by the United Nations, the EU could take its shark finning ban from lagging to leading."

Notes to editors:

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of 44 conservation, fishing, diving, and scientific organisations dedicated to improving European Union shark fishing policies.

Earlier this year, the Shark Alliance released the report of a technical expert review of the EU shark finning regulation, through which scientists repeated recommendations that sharks be landed with their fins attached. The report can be viewed at Strengthening European fisheries management: Options for enforcing the shark finning ban.

The European Commission released its consultation document for a Community Plan of Action for sharks last week.

Earlier today, the EU Council of Ministers decided on 2008 catch limits for spurdog and porbeagle sharks as well as skates and rays at their annual quota setting meeting. 

Council’s decision (PDF)