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October 30, 2012

MEPs Urged to Vote to Protect Sharks from Cruel Finning

Humane Society International/Europe

  • MEPs will vote on the fate of sharks. cbpix/iStock

By Joanna Swabe

It is difficult to imagine how anyone could cut off the fin of a living, breathing and sentient creature and throw the animal back into the sea to drown. Yet this is the fate that befalls untold millions of sharks across the globe for the sole purpose of supplying the market for shark fin soup.

Now Members of the European Parliament will have the opportunity to protect sharks from this terrible fate when they debate and vote on the issue on 22 November 2012.

Although 27 countries around the world and the European Union currently ban the practice of shark finning, the current EU legislation (Regulation (EC) No 1185/2003), introduced in 2003, is one of the weakest in the world, with gaping loopholes that allow this cruel and wasteful practice to continue undetected.

HSI has been working closely with Members of the European Parliament on this issue for many years, highlighting the problems with the current regulation and encouraging the adoption of better legislation to help protect sharks.

A report on the European Commission’s proposal to amend the legislation by adopting a new "fins naturally attached" policy will be voted on after a debate on 22 November 2012. If adopted, it would ensure that all sharks caught by EU-owned vessels are landed with their fins naturally attached, leaving no opportunity for finning to take place at sea.

This vote is an important opportunity to strengthen one of the weakest finning bans in the world and to give sharks the protection that they so urgently need. It is therefore vital that MEPs vote for, and the European Union introduces, the fins naturally attached policy without exception.

Dr Joanna Swabe is director of HSI/Europe

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