With a week of activities around Europe, the Shark Alliance and European citizens call on EU fisheries ministers to protect sharks from overexploitation and finning.
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The European Union (EU) has unfinished business for sharks. During this year’s European Shark Week from October 15-23, European citizens are calling on EU fisheries ministers to make the push to protect sharks from overexploitation and urgently strengthen the EU regulation that bans the wasteful practice of ‘finning’ (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea).
Although finning is banned in the EU, the regulation has huge loopholes that make it possible to fin sharks without detection or punishment. Permitted EU fishermen are allowed to remove shark fins at sea and land them separately from shark bodies, creating serious challenges for enforcement.
Now there is an opportunity for change with the upcoming release of the European Commission’s proposal for a revised finning regulation. There are also key opportunities in the coming months to deliver on other commitments of the EU Shark Action Plan endorsed by EU fisheries ministers two years ago after sustained pressure from the Shark Alliance.
Fins naturally attached without exceptions now
With an increasing number of countries and fisheries management organizations worldwide adopting such an approach, and advice from scientists, enforcement officials, and conservationists, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends governments end all at-sea shark fin removal. Such ‘fins naturally attached’ policies not only maximize the enforceability of finning bans, but also facilitate the collection of species-specific data on shark catches that are sorely needed for population assessment and management.
Protecting endangered sharks and rays and setting catch limits
Sharks play essential roles as top ocean predators, and EU policies affect sharks all over the world. The EU Shark Action Plan includes commitments not only to strengthen the shark finning ban, but also to ensure shark and ray fisheries are sustainable and to better protect endangered species. Currently, there are still no catch limits in place for the main targets of EU shark fisheries (blue and mako sharks), and, in most European countries, endangered species (such as hammerheads and giant devil rays) lack any specific, national protections.
Making the push to protect sharks during European Shark Week 2011
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During this year’s European Shark Week from October 15-23, at events across Europe organized by Shark Alliance member organizations and aquariums, shark enthusiasts are adding their voices demanding that policy makers secure the future health of shark populations.
European citizens from all 27 EU countries are urging EU fisheries ministers to deliver proper protection for sharks from finning and overexploitation by signing a petition demanding:
A complete ban on removing shark fins at sea, without any exception;
Europeans can take a photo, draw a picture or record a video and add it to the Flickr pool.
- Shark and ray catch limits based on scientific advice and the precautionary approach;
- EU and national protections for endangered shark and ray species.
Visit the Shark Alliance, find out more about European Shark Week or sign the petition.
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 non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.