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Shark finning is barbaric and must stop, says Bradshaw

24th July 2003

The practice of cutting the fins from live sharks is
barbaric and must stop, Nature Conservation and
Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said today.

Ben Bradshaw and Mariella Frostrup

Mr Bradshaw met TV presenter Mariella Frostrup and members of the Shark Trust, to receive a petition signed by 83,000 people opposed to shark finning.

The value of fins is much higher than the rest of a shark's carcase, which is why fishermen are tempted to remove the fin and discard the carcase.

Mr Bradshaw said he was disappointed that UK was not able to persuade enough EU Member States to agree to stronger controls on the finning of sharks. The Shark Trust has been campaigning with the UK for stricter rules.

Mr Bradshaw said:
"I cannot imagine a more barbaric practice than cutting fins
from a shark and then abandoning it to die. The UK has
been pressing with some like-minded Member States for
safeguards to ensure this practice is brought to an end.
Recent Community legislation to restrict the practice of
finning is a step in the right direction but goes nowhere
near as far as the UK would have wanted.

Finned shark
photo credit Kanchai Taechawanwakin

"The Shark Trust are to be congratulated for its vigorous campaigning and the help it has given to the UK Government in furthering this issue."

There have been no reports of shark finning being carried out by UK vessels or in UK waters. The new EU regime, agreed in June, will mainly affect the activities of Spanish and Portuguese vessels. The regime only permits the removal of fins from dead sharks, and seeks to prevent the practice of discarding of bodies by controls on the ratio of fins to shark bodies landed. The regime will be reviewed in the next two and a half years.

The UK wishes to promote a fishery in which sharks would have to be landed complete to aid controls and to promote sustainability.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits the finning of basking sharks in England and Wales.