European Shark Fisheries

european_shark_fisheries_thEuropean fleets are among the world’s leaders in fishing for sharks, reporting over 13% of global landings to the FAO in 2004. The most valuable parts of most sharks are their fins, which are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Shark meat is less profitable, which results in a strong economic incentive to cut off the fins and discard the carcass back into the sea, a practice called shark “finning”. In June 2003, the Council of the European Union adopted a Regulation on the removal of shark fins on-board vessels, which was intended to prevent the practice of shark finning within the European fleet (one of the world’s largest shark fishing entities). The European Commission reviewed the finning regulation in December 2005, stimulating significant debate in the European Parliament on its efficancy and whether the measures in force were fit for the purpose.

An expert workshop, funded by the Lenfest Ocean Program, was convened in Brussels in October 2006 by the Shark Alliance to contribute towards shark fisheries management discussions in Europe. The purpose of the workshop was to describe and compare available data about shark fisheries, markets, trade and biology, and to develop science-based recommendations regarding precautionary and science-based conversion rates for shark products, particularly fin to carcass ratios or other methods that might be used to prevent the practice of shark finning. This document is the report of that workshop.

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