Shark finning, the cruel process of removing fins and throwing the sharks back into the water to die, has gotten a lot of press lately. Recent bans have included California (the largest market for shark fins outside of Asia) and Toronto, and celebrities have lined up to throw their support behind the sharks. Leonardo DiCaprio and Edward Norton spoke out in support of the CA ban, and January Jones and Richard Branson both swam with sharks to raise awareness.
Soon, there might be more good news for sharks. the European Commission has proposed a shark finning ban. According to the Huffington Post, the ban would prohibit all boats in European Union (EU) waters as well as any EU-registered boats in any waters from finning sharks.
Currently, EU law allows for fins can be removed from sharks onboard vessels with permits, and the fins and bodies can be brought to different ports. EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki says, “We want to end the horrendous practice of shark finning and protect sharks much better.” Environmental organization, Oceana, is opposed to shark finning as well, although not the fishing of sharks. They say that throwing the sharks thrown back into the water could be used for food or research. Policy adviser Amelie Malafosse says the research could track the types of sharks caught and help protect populations.
The ban approved by the European Commission must now be approved by the European Council, which Struan Stevenson, European Parliament fisheries committee Vice President has said will be a difficult vote to get. “When these proposals come before MEPs, I have no doubt that a few countries will seek to water them down. However, we will push for a rigorous ban. We need a ban on finning that enables fishermen to catch sharks in a way that puts conservation and humane treatment before making a quick buck.”