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July 12, 2011

Taiwan to Implement Fins-Attached Policy for Shark Fishing

Humane Society International

  • Awareness is growing that shark finning is both cruel and wasteful. ricardoazoury/istock

WASHINGTON—Humane Society International applauds Taiwan’s national fisheries agency for the decision to strengthen its shark management policy and implement a fins-naturally-attached measure beginning next year.

Taiwan’s new regulations will do away with the loophole-filled "fin-to-carcass" ratio regulation and mandate that sharks must land ashore with their fins naturally attached to their bodies. Taiwan will be the first country in Asia to employ a full ban on shark finning.

"This is a remarkable decision by the Taiwanese government. As one of the world’s top shark catching and fin trading countries, Taiwan’s latest announcement will set a regional trend and will likely put pressure on other Asian countries that have thus far resisted international pressure to improve their shark finning regulations," said Iris Ho, wildlife campaigns manager for HSI.

See a timeline of progress in the fight to stop shark finning

HSI recently met with the Taiwanese fisheries agency and urged the government to follow in the footsteps of the United States and a growing number of Latin American countries to implement fins-attached policy to prevent shark finning. A fins-attached policy enables countries to assess their shark catches by species, thereby facilitating the adoption of effective conservation measures.

Facts:

  • "Finning" refers to the act of cutting off a shark’s fins and throwing the rest of the shark back into the sea. It is estimated that tens of millions of sharks are killed to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup every year.
  • According to a Pew Charitable Trust report from earlier this year, "The Future of Sharks: A Review of Action and Inaction," Taiwan is the fourth largest shark catching country in the world. Other Asian countries on the top 20 list include Indonesia, Japan and South Korea and others. The existing shark populations cannot sustain the current catch rate.
  • In January of this year, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, to strengthen the federal law against shark finning at sea and require that sharks be landed with their fins still attached.
  • Fins-attached policies require no weighing, therefore facilitating compliance. Shark conservation is greatly enhanced by fins-attached policies, as fishers have to store every shark that they catch, reducing the total catches and ensuring full usage of the carcasses and decreased wastage.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems. The practice of shark finning is global and has led to severe declines in shark populations. Unlike other fish species, sharks produce very few young and mature slowly and consequently, overexploited populations can take years or even decades to recover.
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    Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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