Fisheries Committee calls on member states to stop issuing special permits to remove shark fins on board vessels

MEPs urged to member states that global efforts to combat illegal fishing be stepped up, and improvements made to agreements with third countries which allow EU vessels to fish in their waters in a Fisheries Committee meeting. They also asked for banning to remove shark fins on board vessels.

Although an EU shark finning ban has been in place since 2003, the relevant regulation still allows "justified exceptions", provided fins are removed on board so as not to leave discarded sharks without fins dying in the sea. Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament voted to call EU member states to stop issuing special permits to remove shark fins on board vessels, and thus, to delete these exceptions. In March 2012, the Council supported Commission's proposal of landing of all sharks with their fins attached.

The committee also called for the eradication of illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries worldwide, in its report on the external dimension of the common fisheries policy. The EU needs to set up effective partnerships with key countries such as the US, Japan and China, it said. MEPs stressed that EU vessels should not compete with local fishermen for the same resources and welcomed the European Commission's intention to include a human rights safeguard clause. They nonetheless underlined the importance of obtaining complete and reliable data from each state on the total amount of fishing done in its waters, in order to prevent over-exploitation.

MEPs also addressed the issue of ships changing flags to increase fishing possibilities. According to the report, EU vessels must fish sustainably all the time if they are to have the privilege of fishing under the EU's fisheries agreements with third countries.