EU is the world leader in shark fishing – it’s time to take the lead in saving them – POLITICO

Sharks have inhabited our oceans for hundreds of millions of years, and mankind as a whole has fascinated and feared for millennia. Today, these animals are being hunted to the brink of extinction by commercial fisheries that kill hundreds of millions of sharks each year.

Demand for their fins and meat is leading to a staggering decline in shark populations worldwide, with more than 50% of shark species now classified as threatened or threatened with extinction. , and the number of sharks floating in the high seas has plummeted by more than 70% in the last 50 years alone. However, while many campaigns have focused on markets in Asia, where most shark products are sold, there is another major factor in this maritime tragedy that has largely evaded attention – European Union.

A new one Report of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW .)) revealed that EU member states were the source of more than 45% of all shark fin related products imported into the three major trade centers – Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Taiwan province – in 2020. Taking into account a 2021 study showing that the EU sources 22% of the total global shark meat supply, this new study demonstrates that the EU also supplies more shark fins to the world. The report analyzes official customs data from 2003 to 2020 to provide the first full picture of the key role the EU plays in the largely unregulated global shark trade, which is currently under control. causing population decline around the world. The findings are uncomfortable to read for some countries in particular.

Spain tops the rankings of global commercial fin exporters with large margins, accounting for more than a quarter of the 188,368 tonnes of shark fin products imported into Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and the province of Taiwan. Loan from 2003 to 2020. Other exporters of shark fins include Portugal, the Netherlands, France and Italy. In addition, Italy, Spain and Greece are the main EU importers of shark meat from the three major trading centers of Asia. The study also shows that, although global shark fin exports to these hubs are generally declining – a warning sign that wild shark populations are declining – the share of imports from the EU is steadily increasing. steadily, from 28% in 2017 to over 45% in 2020. At this rate, the EU could soon become the main source of shark fins for the world’s three largest trading centers.

The IFAW study should serve as a wake-up call for the EU to achieve the true scale of its contribution to the global shark decline.

The results of the IFAW study will serve as a wake-up call to the EU on how much of a contribution it actually makes to global shark decline and step up action to tackle it. To this end, the EU needs to improve monitoring and tracking of its own shark fishing and trade, while advocating sustainable trade limits through the Convention on International Trade in Sharks. Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to change the global market towards a brighter, more sustainable future for sharks.

The EU should support the inclusion of all commercially traded shark species on CITES Appendix II to ensure that international trade is maintained at a sustainable level. This step is no longer preventive, but necessary and urgent given the clear evidence of shark declines due to unregulated fishing and trade. And there’s a lot of room for improvement. Around the world, governments have begun to recognize that the CITES listing is an effective and enforceable way to stem the global trade in shark fin products that cause sharks to decline. shot. However, only 25% of the global shark trade is regulated through CITES, with many shark species being traded endangered. Since 2002, 46 species of sharks and rays have been listed in Appendix II, including 18 at risk added at the last CITES meeting in 2019. When a species is listed, trade International trade can only proceed with the appropriate permits to ensure that trade is limited to a sustainable level. Although the EU has supported global efforts to implement the existing CITES lists, this has not been enough.

As the world leader in shark fishing and trade, the EU must also lead in accelerating global conservation actions to prevent the collapse of shark populations. While more CITES listings won’t magically solve the problem, when effective management is in place, shark populations have been shown to recover.

When effective management is implemented, shark populations have been shown to recover.

The CITES listings have led to action at the national and international levels to increase transparency and improve management of shark species threatened by international trade. That is why it is important to expand the CITES list to the many other vulnerable shark species whose unregulated trade is contributing to population declines, before they are all endangered. chance of extinction. The next opportunity to add new species is the CITES conference in Panama in November 2022, but because the process can be complex and lengthy, it must start now.

By actively taking a leadership role in global shark conservation, the EU will put in place the global trade reforms needed to prevent shark extinction and affect all parties involved. other follow. This is not only a clear responsibility but also an opportunity for the EU to improve its capacity to understand, monitor and regulate its role in the global trade in sharks. The EU has the right to keep more sharks where they belong; live and thrive in the sea.

The EU has the right to keep more sharks where they belong; live and thrive in the sea.

Small or large, coastal or open sea, it is indisputable that shark species are disappearing, and partial management efforts to date have failed to halt their decline. For too long the burden of change has been placed on the shoulders of consumers in Asia; It is time for all countries with international fishing fleets and trade in shark products to shoulder their responsibilities fairly – starting with the EU.

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Fry Electronics Team

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