UK Fisheries Minister Champions Shark Protection

Shark Trust Press Release

UK Fisheries Minister Champions Shark Protection

As Europe debates the future of the EU ban on shark ‘finning’,the Shark Trust shows the UK Fisheries Minister the strength of public support from the Great British Public for closing the loopholes.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), every year millions of sharks are finned worldwide. Finning is the wasteful practice of removing shark fins on board fishing vessels and discarding the carcass at sea. The current EU regulation, adopted in 2003, bans finning but is too lenient to ensure that the practice is not continuing undetected and unpunished.

Shark fins are the key ingredient in a traditional and expensive Asian soup. The EU, particularly Spain, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of shark fins to Asia.

The European Commission has proposed ending special fishing permits, still granted by some member states, that allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea and bring bodies and fins to port separately. The UK ceased provision of these permits in 2009, whereas Spain and Portugal continue to issue them, to their extensive long-line fleet. As expected, the Spanish industry is leading the opposition to the Commission’s proposed improvements in the finning ban which would require all sharks to be landed with their fins ‘naturally attached’.

Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust said, “The Shark Trust strongly supports the Commission’s proposal for a fins naturally attached policy. The Trust is working closely with the UK Government, and members of the European Parliament and Council to secure a shark finning policy with no compromise or exceptions.”

The UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, a committed supporter of the fins naturally attached policy, has received a presentation on behalf of over 60,000 UK citizens who joined the Shark Trust, and partners in the EU-wide Shark Alliance coalition, in calling for improved shark conservation measures. Benyon, who has led the UK in championing a tighter shark finning regulation, has been vocal in his support commenting: “The UK strongly supports the Commission’s proposals to tighten controls on shark finning, this will once and for all remove any possibility that illegal finning can take place on EU vessels and in EU waters.”
“The petition I have received demonstrates the strength of feeling on the wasteful and potentially barbaric practice of shark finning, cutting off a shark’s fin and throwing the rest of the carcass into the sea. The UK will continue to lead the way on shark conservation internationally, pushing for improvements wherever they’re needed.”

Unmanaged exploitation of sharks, in particular shark finning, is a matter of public concern, as clearly demonstrated by the support for European Shark Week - an annual series of activities, every October, to highlight the plight of sharks. Across the UK events were enthusiastically delivered by individuals, organisations and the network of UK aquariums with a petition calling for stronger conservation measures. SEA LIFE London Aquarium topped the petition tally, securing nearly 15,000 signatures.

Rebecca Carter, Conservation Co-ordinator at SEA LIFE London Aquarium said: “Working with the team here in London we have been busy fulfilling our commitment to the EU Shark Action Plan by communicating the threat to sharks overall and essentially the need for tightening the shark finning ban.”

Shark Trust and Shark Alliance colleagues recognised SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s achievements whilst marvelling at the diversity of sharks in their newest shark exhibit.

Editors notes:

The Shark Trust: Established in 1997, the Shark Trust is the UK registered charity which works to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action. The Trust is: an effective and well respected advocate for sound shark management and protection; a founder member of the Shark Alliance; the Secretariat of the European Elasmobranch Association; and a membership organisation which provides a link between the public and the science community. The Trust works through cross-sectoral collaboration and where possible works with governments and industry to attain sustainable goals. The Shark Trust advocates for effective and well enforced shark finning regulations and has been instrumental in the adoption of European and domestic policies.

The Shark Alliance: is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific, and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernment organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans. Every October, members of the Shark Alliance in Europe conduct a week of public activities to promote shark appreciation and to call for conservation measures. 

Why: Fins-naturally-attached? We believe that requiring sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached is straight forward to enforce and by far the simplest and most reliable method to ensure an end to shark finning. A reduced enforcement burden as there is no requirement for ensuring compliance with the fin:carcass ratio and the associated complicated conversion factor calculations. The ability to secure the species-specific landings data required for population monitoring and associated species specific management measures. The removal of the opportunity for ‘high grading’.

For more information and media interviews contact:
The Shark Trust on +44 (0) 1752 672020/07855 386083

For images please contact: Sophie Hulme.
Tel: +44 (0) 7973 712 869.

The Shark Trust
4 Creykes Court,
The Millfields
Plymouth, Devon.
Ph/fax +44 (0) 1752 672008
Charity No: 1064185
Registered Company No: 3396164