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.”
Shark finning is a brutal practice: Fishermen haul live sharks onto boats where their fins are sliced off, and the sharks are then thrown back into the water, alive, to drown or bleed to death. Current reports estimate that over one hundred million sharks are killed every year, most only for their fins, which are often used in shark fin soup. Once an Asian delicacy reserved for the wealthy, now, with a growing middle class, shark fin soup has become common fare at weddings, banquets and business meetings. A bowl can cost up to 2,000 renminbi, or about $320, making the fins easily the most lucrative part of the shark. Shark fin has little to no taste, and merely contributes texture to shark fin soup.
Since shark meat is inferior to other fish and the bodies are bulky and take up precious cargo space, sharks are finned around the world. This cruel practice is also incredibly wasteful; shark finning only utilizes one to five percent of the shark’s body weight, removing an essential food source from many communities. Unsustainable fishing methods like shark finning have caused the decline of some shark species by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.
The proposed new law, which was approved by EU ministers and is expected to become effective later this year, closes a loophole in EU laws by which fishermen with special permits are still permitted to remove fins from shark carcasses at sea. Under the new rule, fishermen will be required to land all sharks with their fins attached, thus severely limiting the number of sharks that a boat’s fishermen can kill to the number of sharks that it can store in its hold.
At the rate of one hundred million sharks killed every year, humans will wipe sharks out entirely in 10-20 years if we don’t change something. The EU has made an important step in the fight to ban shark finning throughout the world. We applaud this latest victory, and encourage countries around the world to follow their commendable example!