europe

VICTORY: European Union Bans All Shark Finning!

Posted Mon, Jul 8, 2013 by Justine Sullivan to europe, European Union, finning, shark, shark fin soup, shark finning

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

We at Oceana are thrilled to share this news with you – the European Union (EU) has just officially adopted a strict ban on shark finning! Saturday ended nearly a decade of battle to close several enforcement loopholes that had permitted some forms of shark finning. Finning has technically been prohibited in the EU since 2003, but an exemption allowed Member States to issue special permits for fishing vessels to remove shark fins on board. In particular, an exemption used by Spain and Portugal allowed some vessels to remove sharks’ fins at sea, which made it nearly impossible to detect and monitor the finning that was occurring.


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VICTORY! EU Shark Fin Ban Loopholes to Be Closed

Posted Fri, Jun 7, 2013 by Justine Sullivan to EU, europe, European Union, finning, fishing, shark fin, shark fin soup, shark finning

The European Union closed a final loophole in their shark fin bans, effectively making shark finning forbidden by all vessels in EU waters and by all EU-registered vessels around the world. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

We’ve got some great news to share with you – The European Union (EU) agreed on Thursday to tighten their existing ban on shark finning, and to effectively close a final loophole in the ban on finning. With the change, shark finning will be forbidden by all vessels in EU waters and by all EU-registered vessels around the world. “Shark finning is one of the main threats to the shark population,” Sandrine Polti, policy adviser to the Shark Alliance, explained to the Huffington Post. “We’re now in a much better position to push for a global shark-finning ban.”


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Portugal Nominates Gorringe Seamounts for MPA

Posted Fri, Feb 1, 2013 by Justine Sullivan to atlantic ocean, europe, gorringe bank, marine protected areas, natura network, portugal, seamounts

frogmouth

Turn that frown upside-down, pink frogmouth! (In the Gorringe Bank. © Oceana) 

We are thrilled to announce another ocean victory this week! In an ambitious step for ocean protection, Portugal has decided to nominate the rich ecosystem of the Gorringe Bank as a new Marine Protected Area.

The Gorringe seamounts, located 300 kilometers off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, are a marvel to behold: at 5000 meters high, they boast a veritable kaleidoscope of colorful flora and fauna. Since 2005, Oceana has worked to draw attention and recognition to this bank, and to bring its spectacular seamount ranges into the network of marine protected areas.

An Oceana expedition by our catamaran, the Ranger, to the Gorringe area in October 2012 documented species never before seen in these seamounts, including branching black coral, roughskin dogfish, hydrocoral, bird’s nest sponge, and various gorgonia. Dozens of the species observed on this expedition have not yet been identified. Unfortunately, among these unique wonders, the expedition also documented the invasive presence of litter, debris, and fishing gear, particularly in the rocky seabeds of the banks.

The nomination of the Gorringe as a protected area in the Atlantic brings hope for a halt and even a reversal of the destruction of this complex and diverse ecosystem that hosts corals, sharks, seabirds, whales, and more. Currently, Portugal maintains the least marine protected surface in all of Europe. With this ambitious project, however, the Portuguese government looks to soar from the bottom of the list to the top. Boasting more than 1.7 square kilometers in its Exclusive Economic Zone and nearly 4 million square kilometers claimed as an expansion of its continental shelf, Portugal’s bold step for the oceans is an admirable example for the EU, and for all coastal countries of the world.  


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Victory in Spain! National Park Saved from Oil Development

Posted Fri, Jul 20, 2012 by Michelle Cassidy to Doñana National Park, endangered species, estuary, EU, europe, iberian lynx, marine protected areas, marsh, migratory birds, oil companies, oil refinery, oil spill, oil tanker, purple heron, spain, spanish imperial eagle, victory

donananationalpark

Many birds make their homes in the wetlands of Doñana National Park ©Wikimedia Commons

We’re pleased to announce that the Spanish government has put an end to proposed oil industry development that would have threatened the Doñana National Park, a World Heritage Site, after campaigning by Oceana and our allies.

Plans to build an oil refinery in the Gulf of Cadiz, not far from Doñana, would have led to higher ship traffic in the area and a higher risk of oil spills or accidents during the tankers’ unloading operations. Oceana is currently working to create a Marine Protected Area in this section of the Gulf of Cadiz, which would be linked to the National Park.

Doñana National Park was established in 1993 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Its marshes, streams, and sand dunes are home to plants and animals found almost nowhere else in the world.

Many migratory birds spend their winters in the park lands, and endangered species like the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx (one of the world’s most endangered cat species) call this area home. In the marshes of Doñana National Park, you can also find birds like the Avocet and the Purple Heron, both of which depend on the sensitive estuary habitats.

Increased oil tanker traffic could have potentially damaged the already vulnerable habitats of these animals.

Oceana identified the threats posed by the construction of this oil refinery in 2005, and has been campaigning against it with other conservationist groups. Oceana Europe is now calling on the Spanish government to enact similar protections for other marine protected areas.


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EU Proposes Full Ban on Shark Finning at Sea

Posted Mon, Nov 21, 2011 by Emily Fisher to europe, european commission, shark finning, sharks

blue shark

Blue sharks would benefit from an EU shark finning ban. © Karin Leonard/Marine Photobank

It has been a banner year for shark conservation – and the good news just keeps rolling in, this time out of Europe.

Today the EU's executive arm proposed a complete ban on shark finning, the practice of cutting off the fins of sharks, often while they are still alive, and then throwing the wounded animals back into the sea.

We’re proud to report that Oceana played a big part in securing this victory; our colleagues in Europe have been campaigning for a shark finning ban in the EU for years.

If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, all vessels fishing in EU waters and all EU vessels fishing anywhere in the world will have to land sharks with the fins still attached – a boon for vulnerable shark populations around the world.

The EU includes some of the world’s major shark fishing nations – Spain, France, Portugal, and the UK. The largest EU shark fisheries occur on the high seas, where Spanish and Portuguese pelagic longliners that historically targeted mainly tuna and swordfish now increasingly catch sharks, particularly oceanic species such as blue sharks and shortfin mako sharks. More than half of large oceanic shark species are currently considered threatened.

Globally, up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the demand of the international shark fin market. EU nations combined catch the second-largest share of sharks – 14% of the world’s reported shark catches.

Today's proposal strengthens the existing EU legislation banning shark finning, which allows shark finning in certain situations. Currently the fins and bodies can be separated on board vessels with special permits, and then landed at different ports. The EU tries to ensure that no bodies have been discarded by making sure the weight of the fins does not exceed 5 percent of the entire weight of the fish landed. The new rule would close this loophole.

"A stronger ban on shark finning will bring significant benefits for shark fisheries management and conservation, not only in Europe, but in all of the oceans where European vessels are catching sharks," said Dr. Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist with Oceana in Europe. 

Congrats to everyone who helped score this huge win for sharks, and fingers crossed for approval by the EU Council and Parliament!


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Victory for Vulnerable Porbeagle Sharks

Posted Fri, Nov 4, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to bycatch, europe, iccat, overfishing, porbeagle sharks, shark conservation, shark finning

porbeagle shark

This porbeagle is pleased. © Doug Perrine / WWF

October was a month full of shark protections, and we’re excited that the trend seems to be continuing into November.

Today, the EU has announced important measures that will protect porbeagle sharks, which are threatened by overfishing.

The new laws will protect porbeagles throughout EU waters, where previous regulations only applied in certain areas. Today’s measures make all fishing for porbeagles illegal and requires that any sharks caught accidentally be released immediately.

Porbeagles are heavily fished for their fins and meat, and because they take a long time to reproduce, they recover from overfishing extremely slowly. Estimates suggest that porbeagle populations in the Mediterranean have declined by 99% since the 1950s.

While this is great news, there is still more to be done to protect vulnerable porbeagles. “The protection of porbeagles by the EU represents an important step for the conservation of this species. However, given its highly migratory nature, if porbeagles are to recover, similar actions must follow at the international level,” said Dr. Allison Perry, wildlife marine scientist with Oceana.

We’re particularly excited about the timing of this measure because it comes right before this month’s meeting of ICCAT, an international commission with the authority to enact shark protections across the Atlantic Ocean.

We want the U.S. to call for international protections for porbeagles and other vulnerable shark species. You can help us by speaking up for sharks!


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New Report: EU Taxpayers Fund Overfishing

Posted Tue, Sep 13, 2011 by Emily Fisher to europe, fishing, fishing subsidies, overfishing

Trawlers in the Mediterranean. © Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Oceana released a new report today outlining the shocking amount of subsidies that pour into Europe’s fishing industry. European taxpayers are essentially paying for overfishing – to the tune of 3.3 billion Euros ($4.6 billion) in 2009.

Here are some other stunning facts from the report:

Check out the full report and pass it on!


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US and EU Reach Accord on Pirate Fishing

Posted Wed, Sep 7, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to europe, fishing subsidies, illegal fishing, iuu fishing, overfishing, pirate fishing

Trawl nets containing uprooted gorgonian corals. © Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Today, the U.S. and E.U. signed a historic agreement to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. These activities are responsible for most illegal fish on the market, some of the most destructive fishing practices in use, and a loss of as much as $23 billion in revenue for legal American fishermen.

The agreement builds on measures each side has already enacted, such as an American moratorium on driftnet fishing and European import processes that require seafood certification. Additionally, two bills currently in the Senate would ban mislabeling seafood and put government money to reducing seafood fraud.

News of the US-EU agreement comes on the heels of a new study recommending that industrial deep-sea fishing be banned. Many deep-sea fish, such as orange roughy and Chilean sea bass, have long lifespans and low birthrates that make them highly susceptible to overfishing. The study also cites the harmful effects of bottom-trawlers, which both wipe out entire local populations of the target fish species and bulldoze long-lived deep sea corals.

Oceana board member and renowned fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly told the Washington Post that the costs of deep-sea fishing far outweigh the benefits.

“It’s a waste of resources, it’s a waste of biodiversity, it’s a waste of everything,” Pauly said. “In the end, there is nothing left.”


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Oceana Uncovers Dangerous Mercury Levels in Fish

Posted Fri, Jul 1, 2011 by Alena Kuczynski to europe, mercury in fish, mercury poisoning, seafood contamination, sharks, spain, swordfish

© Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Spain’s biggest newspaper, El País, featured Oceana prominently in this morning’s cover story. The article describes Oceana’s unrelenting effort to make previously confidential research regarding unsafe mercury levels in large fish freely accessible to the public, highlighting an important victory with implications for the health of the Spanish populace and the transparency of the Spanish government.

Here’s the back story: in 2003, Spain’s Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) conducted a large research study that documented levels of mercury and other heavy metals in large fish such as various sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna.

The results of the study were not good: 62.5 percent of the 128 mako shark samples and 54.2 percent of the swordfish samples contained high, unpermitted levels of mercury. Despite this alarming evidence, the results were never released due to concerns about its possible impact on the fishing industry.


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