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Action on Shark Finning
14/10/09
source : Scottish Government Release - Listen  Scottish Government


Listen Action on shark finning 11/10/2009 A ban on fishermen removing fins from sharks whilst their vessels are at sea will come into force in Scotland within weeks. Earlier this year Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced plans to tighten up procedures in Scotland's seas. Now Scotland is to go a 'significant step further' by strengthening an absolute ban on the 'barbaric' practice of shark finning. Mr Lochhead has also written to the European Commissioner, calling on the Commission to follow Scotland's lead and strengthen the ban on shark finning throughout the European Community. Industry representatives in Scotland support the ban. Speaking during European Shark Week (October 10-18), Mr Lochhead said: "Some shark populations are close to extinction, so I am delighted that Scotland is bringing an end to such a barbaric practice. "As one of Europe's most important fishing nations we have a duty to show that we are serious about protecting the sustainability of our seas, their stocks and the wider marine ecosystem, not just through words but with action. "Scotland has been praised in the past for taking a stand on shark finning - now we are once again taking decisive action and sending out a strong, unequivocal message to the rest of Europe. "I have no doubt the Scottish public will abhor this cruel and wasteful activity and will welcome Scotland's leadership." Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust, said: "The Shark Trust was instrumental in the adoption of the first EU finning legislation, and enthusiastically supports the steps taken by Mr Lochhead to ensure Scottish vessels adhere to the actual intention of the ban - that no fins are removed at sea. "We applaud Scotland on its further action in urging the European Commission to review the finning legislation and ensure all sharks caught by European vessels are landed with their fins naturally attached." Scottish Ministers will make an Order under section 30(2) of the Fisheries Act 1981 to ban the removal of shark fins at sea without exception. Such a ban will apply to Scottish-fishing vessels, regardless of where they fish; and any other fishing vessel within the Scottish zone, provided they are not in possession of a valid special fishing permit issued from another Member State. Existing legislation will be amended to remove a defence currently afforded to vessels which hold special fishing permits issued by Scottish Ministers, permitting them to remove and retain shark fins in certain circumstances. Special Fishing Permits for the Removal of Shark Fins were first issued in Scotland in May 2004. There are over 25 species of sharks in Scottish waters, over a quarter are considered threatened according to the IUCN red list, a further 30 per cent are considered near threatened. Sharks are more vulnerable to overfishing because they mature slowly and give birth to only a few young at a time. They are prized for their meat; for their liver oil used in Omega-3 supplements, lipstick and haemorrhoid cream; and for their fins to make shark-fin soup. Data from 2005 and 2006 suggests that the UK had reported landings of around 10,000 tonnes, compared with around 350 tonnes for Germany, 15,000 for Portugal and 38,000 for Spain. Shark fins, (worth up to 500 €/kg), are exported to east and south-east Asia for processing and preparation of shark fin soup. The EU is the world's largest exporter of shark fins to China, the biggest consumer market. Back to contents
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