Shark landings at Vigo Port, Spain. (Photo: Oceana)
EP decision on shark finning welcomed by the Spanish
Thursday, September 20, 2012, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
The Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) welcomed the approval of the Draft Report on the Regulation by the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament (EP), amending the current legislation on the removal of shark fins on board boats.
The document, drafted by MEP Maria do Céu Patrao Neves, includes the maintenance of special permits for the removal of shark fins on ships as key amendments of the Regulation No. 1185/2003, compared to the fins attached policy, advocated by the European Commission (EC).
But the EP Fisheries Committee did not approve the proposed amendments directed to reinforce the control measures of the shark fishery and of scientific data collection about the two species caught by the Community longline fleet – tiger shark and shortfin mako shark -- in order to optimize its management.
"We are satisfied about the message that the Fisheries Committee sends to the full EP, who now has the last word, as support to a sustainable and responsible fleet as to the captured resources such as the community longline fleet," said the secretary general of Cepesca, Javier Garat, explained.
The leader insisted that the fleet "does not practise finning and makes full utilization of the catches of two species in good conservation status."
Garat also recalled that the EC proposal -- to ban finning on board and keep fins attached to the body -- would mean an increase in annual costs to the fleet of more than EUR 9.5 million. In addition, it would potentially affect 2,775 crew members and over 11,100 jobs on land.
"This measure would not prevent the rest of the fleet dedicated to catching sharks in the world, representing 93 per cent of total catches of these species, from continuing performing the finning practice," stated Garat.
Furthermore, he stressed that European fishermen use the whole shark: “the bodies to provide fish meat at a good market price, the fins for the Asian market, the skin for leather goods manufacturing and the cartilage and liver for the pharmaceutical and aesthetic industries."
Garat reiterated the need to allow the removal of fins on board freezer vessels "to ensure the safety of the crew, food security, optimize the stowage capacity of ships and ensure the comprehensive utilization of catches in their different marketing channels."
The conservation organization Oceana also welcomed the EP Fisheries Committee’s support for the strict ban on shark finning in EU waters and EU vessels fishing all around the world.
By contrast, the Shark Alliance considers the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament voted the set of amendments to the regulations prohibiting shark finning in "a puzzling and inconsistent manner."
According to the coalition, formed by 130 organizations dedicated to the protection of sharks on a scientific basis, the vote of the majority of the approved and rejected amendments was narrowly defined, creating controversial messages that support and reject some of the loopholes that hinder the implementation of ban finning.
“We will continue to urge all MEPs to promptly remove all confusion in Plenary and clearly endorse a strict EU policy against removing shark fins at sea, without any more exceptions,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust, a founding member of the Shark
The approved text has now been sent to the full EP, who will make the final decision when meeting in October.
Cepesca hopes the rejected amendments will be reconsidered, since in their opinion they would provide transparency, control and better management to shark fisheries in the EU.
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By Analia Murias