Linda welcomes EU "shark finning" ban

22 November 2012

Linda has welcomed the outcome of a vote today in Strasbourg which bans EU fishing vessels cutting off sharks' fins on board.

Shark 'finning' is the practice of cutting off a shark's fins while discarding the rest of the carcass back into the sea. As a consequence, tens of thousands of mutilated sharks die slowly and painfully. Sharks have a low reproduction rate and grow slowly, so population recovery is also slow, making them particularly vulnerable to unregulated intensive fishing. Sharks' fins are then exported to Asia to meet the demand for shark's fin soup, an East Asian dish traditionally served at weddings and New Year celebrations.

"Although shark finning was banned by the EU nearly a decade ago, special technical exemptions make the ban impossible to properly enforce and all too easy for the horrific practice to continue unnoticed" said Linda, who is the Fisheries spokesperson for all Labour MEPs. 

"We voted to put this right and supported an un-equivocal ban on shark finning. After today's vote, sharks' fins must be naturally attached when vessels land on shore.”

"We have already ended this wasteful and unethical practice here in the UK and this new EU law will bring the rest of Europe in line with UK rules" added Linda.

Under the previous system of controls, a legal loophole meant that it was extremely difficult to detect if 'finning' had occurred illegally. Special permits could be given so that a shark’s fins and the rest of its body could be landed in separate ports. Under the new rules, all sharks will have to be landed with their fins naturally attached.

"Today we saw a victory for Labour and our allies against the European right wing parties who wanted the loophole to remain," Linda added.

Vessel owners will now have to hire an independent body to carry out controls in the ports where local authorities are unable to do this, and freezer vessels will have to keep detailed records on their catches.

The governments of the European Union have already supported this proposal, so the European Parliament and council will now go into brief negotiations and the law is expected to take effect in 2013.

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