European Parliament Votes to Ban Shark Finning

22 November 2012: The European Parliament has voted to end shark finning, closing regulatory loopholes that permitted the practice of removing shark's fins on board freezer vessels before reaching port.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki posted a statement to her blog welcoming the Parliament's support and explaining that the Commission's proposal is based on extensive public consultation with industry and other actors.

According to the Commission, the move, which applies to all EU vessels and all vessels fishing in EU waters, strengthens existing EU legislation and protects shark populations around the world. It says that the previous 2003 Regulation against the practice permitted certain exemptions and was difficult to monitor.

The Commission explains that fin removal, often carried out while the fish is still alive, hinders species identification and the collection of scientific data necessary for fisheries management and conservation. It adds that the EU's international commitments to protect sharks are in line with the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO's) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and its International Plan of Action on Sharks (IPOA-Sharks). [Statement of Maria Damanaki] [EU Press Release]