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MEPs vote to give rules against cruel shark practice extra bite (2012 11 22)

Wholesale shop keeper displaying a shark fin ©Belga/AFP/L.Fievet.

Never mind what the popular Jaws films will have you believe: people pose a greater threat to sharks then they to us. Several shark species have been pushed to the brink of extinction due to fin hunters cutting the animals' fins off while they are still alive before leaving them to drown in the water. MEPs voted on 22 November to close a loophole in the current ban on shark finning, which will make it easier to catch out perpetrators of this cruel practice.

About shark finning

Sharks fins are sold between 15 and 70 euros per kilogramme. Fins are graded as extra large (40 cm and above), large (30-40 cm), medium (20-30 cm), small (10-20 cm), very small (4-10 cm) and mixed or assorted.

Indonesia is the biggest fisher of sharks (107 tons per year) followed by India (81 tons) and Spain (56 tons). The biggest shark fin importers are China (36%) and Hong Kong (58%).

According to data from the United Nations, the EU is the world’s largest trading partner for shark products and is responsible for 56% of total global shark imports from other states and for more than  30% of worldwide exports

Shark fins have been used as food in China for centuries. There are reports of their use as early as the Ming Dynasty from 1368-1644.

What's happening in the European Parliament?

The European Commission has proposed to improve current European rules for cracking down on shark finning. Portuguese Christian Democrat Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, who is responsible for steering the legislation through Parliament, supports the plan. She wants fishers to be required to bring in sharks to ports with the fins attached. This would mean that fishers would be forced to kill sharks on their vessels instead of leaving them in the sea to die and remove the fins later.

European Parliament, © News service, 22 11 2012


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