Most shark species are not (yet) on the red lists of endangered species. So why should the trade with shark fins be banned in Europe?
Finning is by definition the unscrupulous cutting-off of shark fins. This is done usually while the animal is still alive. The torso of the shark is then thrown overboard, and the animal is left to die miserably. In Europe “finning” is forbidden. The fins of sharks caught by European vessels must be “naturally attached” when they are brought ashore. But this does not keep European fleets from catching sharks in large numbers (technically without finning) for their fins. The result has no less serious consequences for the sharks!
Incidentally, finning is a practice which is still rampant in Europe today. Recent years have shown that fleets cannot be sufficiently monitored to prevent the taking of fins from by-catch. Hunting sharks is only worthwhile because of the valuable fins; the rest of the animal, with very few exceptions, is not used and is often considered waste. The sharks must die only for a small part of their body which is considered of value.
We already know the phenomenon of imminent extinction due to a few desired body parts from elephants and rhinos. Elephants in Africa have been almost wiped out because of their ivory tusks and rhinos have also been put in severe danger. They were persecuted and hunted in Africa and Asia only for their horns which were ultimately desired due to misinformation concerning their medical benefits.
This practice was gradually condemned as reprehensible, and strides to protect the few remaining animals have been intensified. These actions, however, were enforced late in the game and at a high price: all three elephant species and five rhinoceros’ species are at the moment threatened with extinction and must be protected.