MEP Girling delighted as EU ‘finally’ moves to outlaw 'cruel practice’ of shark finning - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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MEP Girling delighted as EU ‘finally’ moves to outlaw 'cruel practice’ of shark finning

Saturday, 26 November 2011
South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling has welcomed with open arms a proposal by the European Commission for an outright ban on the practice of shark finning, which she has described as "unacceptably cruel".

Shark finning is where fishermen cut the valuable fins from a shark and throw the rest of the shark back into the water – often while still alive. While it has officially been illegal since 2003, a loophole in current law only requires the weight of the fins caught to be around five per cent of the total shark catch. As the average fin-to-shark ratio is around two per cent, this effectively means that at least half of the sharks that are finned need not be landed.

Writing on Public Service Europe this week, Mrs Girling says: “the shark finning trade is extremely lucrative, and the punishments are miniscule compared to the rewards. Shockingly the EU, particularly Spain, is one of the world's largest suppliers of shark fins to Asia. European law and monitoring need to change so that fishermen are harshly punished for enacting cruelty and threatening some shark species.

The current EU regulation [No 1185/2003 of 26 June 2003] is frequently considered too lenient to ensure that finning is not continuing undetected and unpunished. The proposal, if adopted by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, would ensure that all sharks taken by EU vessels, or in EU waters, are landed with their fins still naturally attached to their bodies,” she writes.

"Sharks that are finned often list around on the ocean bed until they are attacked or they starve to death. Many people may not love sharks in the same way that they may love a dog or cat, but they all see the shameful cruelty in leaving a creature to die a painful and slow death."

The European Commission has proposed ending special fishing permits, still granted by some member states, which allow fishermen to remove shark fins at sea and bring bodies and fins to port separately.

When these proposals come before MEPs, I have no doubt that a few countries will seek to water them down. However, Conservatives will push for a rigorous ban,” she writes. “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.

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