The fins business is also worthwhile for Europe.
Shark fishing in Europe
Every year millions of sharks are caught in Europe. Spain, for example, is one of the leading manufacturers of unprocessed shark fins.
However, the EU regulation banning finning on fishing vessels in 2013 led to a change in the fishing industry. Until now, fishing vessels could save cargo space by cutting sharks’ fins and throwing their bodies overboard. This left more space for more valuable species such as swordfish and tuna. Now the sharks had to be landed. For a short time, the fishing volume for blue sharks decreased (2013: 44703t in the Atlantic). In 2016, the last year evaluated, the figure was 53,000 tons again. What has happened? In addition to the lucrative business with the fins, shark meat from the blue shark was now also on the market, for which there had previously been no interest. But the fishing in Europe is not only limited to Blue sharks. Other species continue to be fished as well. In 2018, European ships landed 6,018 tons of the endangered Shortfin Mako in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Mediterranean, the WWF recently found that more than half of the shark species found there are endangered.
One of the reasons: Overfishing.
But the “fins naturally on the body” regulation of the EU should actually protect the sharks from being hunted for their fins. Unfortunately, it is often not even possible to determine whether fins or shark meat is being handled: In many countries around the world, including the EU, there is no indication of whether a cargo is an unprocessed or processed part of the fish, such as fins. This makes it particularly difficult to trace which parts are transported where. Another area of uncertainty is the control figures. For the Spanish longline fleet, an independent observer rate of only 1-3% is recorded on fishing vessels. Whether really all the sharks caught are landed, as stipulated in the EU regulation, can therefore only be confirmed for these vessels.
If shark protection in Europe is to have a chance, trade in shark fins from Europe must therefore be prevented in a really effective way. That is why we are demanding: The fins must remain on the shark at all times – even when being exported!