EU joins US in Effort to Strengthen Shark Finning Ban Atlantic Tuna Body

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SAI News Release
Media contact: Liz Morley: 843.693.5044

Conservationists applaud proposal for banning on at-sea fin removal at ICCAT meeting next week

Plymouth, UK. 15 November, 2013. The Shark Trust and Shark Advocates International are heralding news that the EU will join an effort spearheaded by the US and Brazil to strengthen the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) ban on shark finning (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea). Officials from dozens of countries will discuss this and other high seas fishing measures at the annual ICCAT meeting next week in Cape Town, South Africa.

"We are pleased and excited that the European Union has embraced the best practice for preventing the wasteful practice of shark finning, and is now placing its considerable influence behind the growing effort to make fins-attached the rule around the globe," said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust.

Shark fins are used in a celebratory Asian soup. High demand for fins is a key driver in many shark fisheries and provides the incentive for finning. ICCAT was the first international fisheries body to ban shark finning (in 2004), but implementation is based on a complicated fin-to-body weight ratio that is difficult to enforce and hinders the collection of accurate information on shark catches.

Scientists recommend that sharks be landed with their fins still naturally attached, as this is the most reliable method for ensuring that finning did not occur while also facilitating species-specific data collection. Accordingly, the removal of shark fins on-board vessels at sea has been prohibited by an increasing number of countries, including the US, many Central and South American nations, and - earlier this year - the 28 Member States of the EU.

The US, Brazil, and the EU have offered a proposal for next week's meeting that would require that shark fins remain naturally attached to shark bodies until after they are landed on shore. The US and Brazil - along with Belize - proposed the beneficial change at the last four ICCAT meetings. In past years, Japan and China have led the effort to defeat the measure.

"We are grateful for US leadership in global shark conservation and commend the government's perseverance in efforts to end overexploitation and waste of these vital yet vulnerable species," added Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.

Shark Trust and Shark Advocates International have collaborated for years to promote science-based limits on shark fishing and trade. The groups are working with colleagues in other countries to urge additional ICCAT Parties to lend their support to the "fins-attached" proposal. Of particular interest is the host country, South Africa, given its long history of white shark conservation and large community of shark researchers.

Media Contact: US: Liz Morley, 843.693.5044 or . UK: Hannah Tarrant +44(0)1752 672020

Notes to Editors:
The Shark Trust is a UK charity working to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action. A new Shark Trust campaign highlights that there are "No Limits" on the catch of most shark species (including makos, smoothhounds, tope, and blue sharks) currently targeted by EU fishermen.

Shark Advocates International (SAI) is a project of The Ocean Foundation established to provide leadership in advancing sound policies for sharks and rays. Based on nearly 20 years of shark conservation achievement, SAI works to secure science-based limits on shark fishing and trade, protection for endangered species, and stronger bans on shark finning.