Close and Confusing Shark Finning Vote in European Parliament

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SAI News Release
Media contact: Liz Morley: 843.693.5044

Loopholes not widened, but not yet closed as battle moves to Plenary

Brussels. 19 September 2012. The European Parliament Fisheries Committee voted today in a puzzling and inconsistent manner on a suite of amendments that form their response to a European Commission proposal to strengthen the EU ban on shark "finning" (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea). The resulting contradictory text both rejects and supports loopholes that hamper finning ban enforcement.

Ms. Patrão Neves, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the major shark fishing nation of Portugal, has been using her role as Rapporteur to fight against adoption of the Commission's proposed improvements.

"We are pleased that most of the problematic, pro-industry amendments from Ms. Patrão Neves were rejected by the Committee, but the lack of clarity in accepted language presents a threat to finalizing a strong finning ban," said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust.

The Commission proposed last year to end the special permits that allow fishermen to remove shark fins on-board vessels. Landing sharks with their fins attached is by far the simplest and most reliable way to enforce finning bans. Spain and Portugal are the only EU Member States that still issue the special permits. Ms. Patrão Neves' attempt to widen loopholes in the finning regulation was defeated, but - in a contradictory move - MEPs adopted her proposed text suggesting exceptions for completely removing shark fins at sea.

Most amendments passed or failed by a narrow margin. The battle now proceeds to a Plenary session, most likely in the next few months.

"We will continue to urge all MEPs to promptly remove all confusion in Plenary and clearly endorse a strict EU policy against removing shark fins at sea, without exceptions," said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.

Contact: The Shark Trust: +44 1752 672008.

The Shark Trust is the UK registered charity which works to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action.

Shark Advocates International (SAI) is a project of The Ocean Foundation established to provide leadership in advancing sound policies for sharks and rays. Based on nearly 20 years of shark conservation achievement, SAI works to secure science-based limits on shark fishing and trade, protection for endangered species, and stronger bans on shark finning.