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December 21, 2012

HSI Delighted by Council’s Endorsement of European Parliament’s Amendments to EU Shark Finning Ban

Humane Society International

  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year primarily to meet the demand for shark fin soup. cbpix/iStock

BRUSSELS, Belgium—Humane Society International is delighted that the Permanent Representatives Committee has endorsed the Council of the European Union’s position on the EU shark finning ban. The Council has decided to accept all of the European Parliament’s amendments to the European Commission’s proposal to close the loopholes in Regulation (EC) No 1185/2003 on the removal of fins of sharks on board vessels.

“We are extremely pleased that the EU Member States have chosen to swiftly endorse the European Parliament’s position. These new regulations will greatly facilitate the collection of data on shark catches by EU vessels thereby making an important contribution to the conservation of shark populations” said Joanna Swabe, HSI EU director. “We hope the Ministers will sign off on this legislation as soon as possible in the New Year and finally relegate the onboard removal of shark fins on EU vessels to history.”

Although the Council had already adopted a general approach in support of a fins naturally attached policy without exception, the Parliament’s report goes further than the Commission’s original proposal by stipulating more stringent reporting requirements. The fins naturally attached policy will ensure that all sharks caught by EU vessels anywhere in the world will be landed with their fins still naturally attached to their bodies.

On November 22, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour, by 566 votes to 47, of adopting a fins naturally attached policy in the European Union without exception. The existing legislation includes a derogation that allows permits to be issued for the removal of fins on board vessels and for fins and carcasses to be landed at different ports. This loophole renders the legislation unenforceable and makes it possible for fully conscious sharks to have their fins sliced off and their bodies discarded at sea.

The adoption of a fins naturally attached policy in the EU will not only more effectively prevent shark finning by EU vessels, but will also constitute a major contribution by the EU to the global effort to eradicate shark finning by advocating fins attached policies to Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, such as ICCAT and IOTC.

Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year in oceans around the world primarily to meet the demand for shark fin soup. The European Union is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia, despite the fact that one-third of European shark and ray species and one-third of open-ocean sharks are classified as “threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.


Media contact: Mark Jones, +44(0) 7947 749 475, mjones@hsi.org

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsi.org.

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