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Minister backs campaign for shark fin protection

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 10, 2012

  • Fisheries minister Richard Benyon and South West MEP Julia Girling, left, have backed an initiative which aims to close shark-finning loopholes in the EU

  • Mr Benyon in the shark tank at Sealife London Aquarium

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Fisheries minister Richard Benyon has been swimming with sharks to highlight his desire to tighten the European ban on “finning”.

Mr Benyon took the plunge into a tank of sharks at Sealife London Aquarium to launch an initiative from the Plymouth-based Shark Trust to close loopholes in the EU ban on slicing off shark fins and discarding the bodies at sea.

Under the ban, Spain and Portugal continue to cut off fins from sharks at sea, and land fins and bodies separately according to an agreed weight ratio which allows fishermen to land far more fins than carcasses, the Shark Trust said.

The UK backs a proposal to close the loophole so that all sharks must be landed with their fins still attached. Preventing finning at sea would reduce the amount of sharks caught because complete sharks take up more storage space than just fins, and make it easier to check that fishermen are not catching prohibited species such as porbeagles.

It would also reduce the waste associated with finning, which provides countries such as China with fins for soup while the rest of the shark is thrown, unused and sometimes still alive, into the seaThe UK has led efforts to tighten EU rules.

Mr Benyon said: “We oppose shark finning and the ban that is currently in place is far too lenient. The UK already requires all sharks to be landed with their fins attached and now Europe needs to follow our lead and listen to the 165,000 people who petitioned for a stronger ban.”

Shark Trust director of conservation Ali Hood said: “Only two EU member states, Spain and Portugal, continue to remove shark fins at sea and it is time for Europe to bring its regulation in line with other nations who have adopted more effective management regimes.”

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  • SharkyChris  |  August 31 2012, 7:02PM

    It is vital that a worldwide ban on shark finning is brought into effect immediately. The damage that has been caused by this barbaric practice is having a massive detrimental global effect on our oceans and essentially the whole planet and already we are at a point where it is almost impossible to recover. Already huge numbers of endangered sharks are on the verge of extinction simply because of dish that is considered an honorary delicacy. Approximately 100 million sharks are finned (usually alive) and the still living animal is then discarded into the sea to die a slow painful death. This is for 2 reasons. 1, the distressed shark will attract more sharks to the fishing area and 2, the gross weight of the boat is only recorded for the fins and not the whole shark. To help bring an end to this inhumane practice, sign as many online petitions (easily found via google or any social media sites) as possible, register with the numerous sites campaigning against finning and most importantly boycott all restaurants that sell shark fin soup. This is one of the most worthwhile causes out there and if you need proof of the brutality of this practice just youtube shark finning and I guarantee you will be shocked. Thanks for reading. Chris

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