Wednesday 15 December 2010

News & Animal: Shark finning continues despite EU ban

Another news article from BBC News on shark-finning.

9 December 2010 Last updated at 09:53 GMT

Shark finning continues despite EU ban, says report

By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News

Loopholes in EU regulations mean that illegal shark finning is continuing undetected, a report warns.
Finning involves cutting off a shark's fins and throwing the rest of the carcass back into the sea - a practice that the EU has regulated since 2003.
Marine experts are calling on the EU to stop issuing special permits that allow fishermen to remove fins at sea.
The authors say almost a fifth of shark, skate and ray species are classified as threatened.
"The waste and unsustainable mortality associated with finning pose threats to shark populations, fisheries, food security and the sustainability of marine ecosystems," said co-author Sonja Fordham, deputy chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group (SSG).
"The most reliable way to enforce a shark-finning prohibition is to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies," she suggested.
"This method is being mandated for more and more fisheries, particularly in Central and North America, creating momentum for global change."
In the EU, shark finning is banned except where special permits have been issued that allows a fishing vessel to fin sharks at sea, without landing the entire animal.
Fin dining
Under the present regulation (1185/2003), member states are able to issue the permits to exempt fishing vessels from the finning at sea "ban".
Under the exemption, the weight of fins kept from the catch must not exceed 5% of the live weight of the shark catch.
However, the authors observed, the fins of some shark species did not typically represent 5% of the live weight of a shark, creating a loophole that meant finning could take place unnoticed.
Globally, sharks are captured in targeted fisheries for their meat, fins, liver and oil. However, it is the animals' fins that are prized as these command high prices.
In comparison, shark meat is relatively cheap, difficult to store and takes up a lot of storage space. This is why the practice of finning at sea is used - it allows vessels to harvest the valuable asset, dump the remaining carcasses, leaving storage space for more economically valuable fish stock.
Shark fin soup is a highly priced, traditional, celebratory, Chinese dish. Fins are considered to be among the world's most valuable fish products, fetching in the region of up to 300 euros/kg (£250/kg) in Hong Kong.
In contrast, shark meat retails for up to seven euros/kg (£5.80/kg) in European markets.
The report - Shark Fins in Europe: Implications for reforming the EU finning ban - was produced, the authors said, in order to highlight the weaknesses in the current system.
"For too long, the EU has left the door open to shark finning," said Uta Bellion, European co-ordinator of the Shark Alliance.
"This report reinforces our call on the EU Commission to propose legislation in 2011 with the one truly reliable option for preventing finning - a complete prohibition of the removal of shark fins at sea."
The consultation runs until February 2011, after which the Commission plans to submit a proposal to revise the current regulation to the European Council and Parliament for consideration.
In October, the UK government announced that it was going to stop issuing the permits that allowed vessels to remove fins while at sea.
On the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website, officials wrote: "This means that all UK registered vessels will now have to land sharks with their fins naturally attached, wherever they fish.
"We did not think that UK fishermen were engaged in shark finning, but wanted to take a strong position and make clear our support for 'fin-on' landings."


carcass -- (n) [Cthe body of a dead animal, especially a large one that is soon to be cut up as meat or eaten by wild animals
unsustainable -- (adj) causing damage to the environment by using more of something than can be replaced naturally
mortality -- (n) [U]formal the number of deaths within a particular society and within a particular period of time
pose (threats to sb) -- (vb) [T] to cause something, especially a problem or difficulty
mandate -- (vb) [Tto give official permission for something to happen
exempt --  (vb) [Tto excuse someone or something from a duty, payment, etc
vessel -- (vb)  [C]  formal a large boat or a ship
dump -- [Tto get rid of something unwanted, especially by leaving it in a place where it is not allowed to be
celebratory -- (adj) celebrating an important event or a special occasion
prohibition -- (n) [C or Uwhen something is officially forbidden (= not allowed), or an order forbidding something


As many of you know that, Hong Kong is probably the largest shark-fin consuming city in the world. Shark fin soup is available almost in every Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. Why do Hong Kong people like shark fins so much?

A telephone survey of 1,000 people was carried out by the Telephone Survey Research Laboratory of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the result was presented at the Shark Conference 2000 by WildAid, Hawaii Audubon Society and Pacific Fisheries Coalition. The finding showed that ...
  1. 73.8% of the respondents consume shark fin soup!!!! 
  2. 23.9% said they consume shark fin soup 6-10 times a year while 24.2% said they consume shark fin soup more than 10 times a year!!!! 
  3. 23.3% said they take shark fin soup in a restaurant!!!! 
  4. 40.7% said they are accustomed to eat it!!! But the most shocking of all was...
  5. When asked if you knew that shark species are declining due to the demand for shark fins, would you still eat it? Only 33.2% of the interviewees answered "yes" while a total of 66.8% answered either "No" or "Don't know/Hard to say".
Why are Hong Kong people so cruel? In many articles I wrote, which includes Animals and Environment: Do Sharks Deserve to Die for Their Fins? Discovery Channel program Shark Week has shown that sharks are as clever as dogs and cats, they think and even talk like human and can be as cute as pets! Yet people avoid learning this fact and continue eating them. Like eating dogs and cats.

Then in Animal & News: Save the Sharks NOW!!! (Updated), I have talked about the cruelty of shark-finning and how people leave the poor baby whale shark floating in the sea of the Philippines. Yet because of the demand, sharks are killed every single day. In Animal: Prehistoric Sharks, Other Fish and Our Environment, I have discussed how amazing these sharks are. And in Animal & Environment: Humboldt Squid Invasion, I have talked about the impact of the killing of sharks on the balance of the ocean.

How much more do people need to know before they will finally say, "I won't kill these fish anymore. They are actually great fish"?

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin devoted his whole life in saving wild animals, including sharks. His Wildlife Warriors foundation continues to protect threatened or endangered wildlife after Steve unfortunate death. I have borrowed his video here, hope that my readers can also understand how beautiful these sharks are and how important they are to the oceans and the world, and us. 

(Watch from 2:23)

Christmas is coming, then it is New Year, and Chinese New Year, and many more Chinese weddings to come, please boycott the eating of shark fins!

Shark finning continues despite EU ban, says report

EarthCare, URL:

Animals and Environment: Do Sharks Deserve to Die for Their Fins?

Animal & News: Save the Sharks NOW!!! (Updated)

Animal: Prehistoric Sharks, Other Fish and Our Environment

Animal & Environment: Humboldt Squid Invasion

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin @ Wikipedia

Wildlife Warriors @ Wikipedia

Crocodile Hunter - Wild West (Part 5/5)