European Shark Week opens with call to "Make the PUSH" to protect Europe's sharks - European Shark Week 2011

Science 15.10.2011

The Shark Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations, is launching the fifth annual European Shark Week today by calling on European Union (EU) fisheries ministers to protect sharks from overexploitation and finning - the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea.

Member groups of the Shark Alliance, aquariums, dive groups, and other conservation organisations in at least 16 countries across the EU, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, will be holding events, filming messages for fisheries ministers, and gathering petition signatures to urge policy makers to resist industry pressure and make the push to protect sharks.

For five years, the Shark Alliance, EU fisheries and environment officials, and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been discussing the need to better protect sharks. Two years ago, EU Fisheries Ministers endorsed a sound EU Shark Action Plan that led to significant strides toward conservation of these exceptionally vulnerable species. Yet, there is unfinished business:

Targeted EU shark fisheries continue without limits, many endangered species remain unprotected, and the EU ban on %u2018finning' still has huge loopholes that make it possible to fin sharks without detection or punishment.

"Public pressure across Europe has made a real and positive difference in shark conservation. We already have more than 20,000 petition signatures, but we need all those concerned about the future of our sharks to help make the push to ensure loopholes in the finning ban are finally closed and ministers live up to the commitments of the EU Shark Plan of Action", said Irene Kingma, Coordinator of European Shark Week.

The Commission's long-awaited proposal for strengthening the EU finning regulation is expected in the autumn and represents a critical opportunity to take the EU finning ban from lagging to leading and to positively influence finning policies around the world.

"The EU is a leader in the global catch, consumption and trade of sharks, and every EU Member State has the duty to press for sound shark conservation policies at the EU level as well as in our national waters," said Martin Clark, Coordinator of the Shark Alliance. "We are hopeful that the public support expressed through European Shark Week will encourage decision makers to take a stand for the much needed protection of sharks from overexploitation and finning".

To sign the petition, go to http://sharkalliancepetition.org/
 
For more information about European Shark Week, which runs from Saturday, October 15 through Saturday, October 23, visit www.europeansharkweek.org.

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