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EU fisheries ministers must make the push to protect sharks

17 August, 2011, London. The European Union (EU) has unfinished business with sharks. European citizens are calling on EU fisheries ministers to make the push and protect sharks from overexploitation and to urgently strengthen the EU regulation that bans the wasteful practice of 'finning' (slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea).

 

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Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to support the international trade of shark fins, making it the greatest threat to sharks globally. Blue Ventures' work in Madagascar supports these threatened populations by managing the largest shark fishery research programme in the Indian Ocean region, supporting communities and governments in developing strategies for sustainable management of these keystone species. As members of the Shark Alliance coalition, Blue Ventures along with more than 100 other organisations are dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies.

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. After a sustained advocacy campaign from the Shark Alliance, two years ago EU Fisheries Ministers endorsed a sound EU shark Plan of Action that led to significant improvement for the conservation of these exceptionally vulnerable species. Still, targeted EU shark fisheries continue without limits, many endangered species remain unprotected, and the EU finning ban still has huge loopholes that make it possible to fin sharks without detection or punishment. However, there is opportunity for change with the release of the European Commission's proposal for a revised finning regulation expected this autumn.

"Public pressure across Europe has made a real and positive difference in shark conservation over the past five years, but we need another 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." Martin Clark, coordinator of the Shark Alliance

Member groups of the Shark Alliance, aquariums and other supporters will gather signatures for a petition urging policy makers to make the needed push for change through sustainable conservation and protection for sharks, by demanding:

• A complete ban on removing shark fins at sea, without any exceptions

• Shark and ray catch limits based on scientific advice and the precautionary approach

• EU and national protections for endangered shark and ray species

To sign the petition, go to http://sharkalliancepetition.org/

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Editors notes:

Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation, dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments. Our highly acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world's poorest coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods.

For more information about Blue Ventures' conservation work, please visit: http://www.blueventures.org/conservation.html

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of more than 100 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans.