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European Union Officially Closes Loopholes in Shark Finning Ban

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Shark finning was banned by the European Union (EU), made up of 27 member countries, in 2003, but some seriously big loopholes allowed for finning to continue. Back in 2011, we wrote about the EU’s possible move to put a complete ban in place. Finally, as of last week, consider the loopholes closed!

Article 4 of the EU’s shark finning legislation, Regulation (EC) No 1185/2003, previously allowed the removal of fins at sea through specially-issued permits. Humane Society International pointed out that the EU regulation, which they called “one of the weakest in the world, allowed for “a special permit to be granted for the on-board removal of fins from carcasses, whilst stipulating a specific weight ratio between the separated fins and carcasses when landed at port, making the assessment of compliance with finning bans difficult.” The European Union has been one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia, especially Hong Kong.

On June 6th, the EU established a strict no finning regulation, mandating that all sharks be landed with fins still attached to their bodies. This applies to all vessels in European Union waters and all European Union-registered vessels.

Ocean and conservation groups are applauding the move. “At long last, the EU has a real and enforceable ban on shark finning, with global implications. The EU catches more sharks than any country in the world, and plays a key role in regional fisheries management organizations where finning remains an acknowledged problem. After ten years with a flawed ban in place, it can now make a serious effort to tackle the issue internationally,” At long last, the EU has a real and enforceable ban on shark finning, with global implications,” said Oceana executive director in Europe, Xavier Pastor, according to treehugger.

When sharks are caught for their fins and their fins are removed at sea, the sharks are most often thrown overboard to slowly bleed to death or drown in the water. With 75-100 million sharks killed every single year, many of whom are killed for their fins, conservationists warn that shark finning is an unsustainable as well as cruel practice. As migratory apex predators,around for hundreds of millions of years, the extinction of sharks will have dire consequences for the ocean ecosystems. Here, Oceana provides more information on why sharks are vital to the oceans, and therefore, all life on Planet Earth.

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