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Friday, May 15, 2009

Shark protection call

Shark protection call
14 May 2009 -- 09:50CEST, by

The Shark Alliance is marking Global Ocean Policy Day by calling on EU Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, to strengthen the EU’s most important and far-reaching policy for sharks: the ban on "finning" (slicing off the fins and tossing the body at sea).

The EU is the lead supplier for the global shark fin trade, which is driven by demand for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. The EU finning ban is currently among the weakest in the world, the Shark Alliance said.

Species that dominate the Asian shark fin trade, such as thresher, hammerhead and blue sharks, are taken by Maltese fishermen. In 2008, scientists reported population declines of 97-99 per cent for Mediterranean populations of these species.

“Ten years ago, Malta took bold action to protect the great white shark, giant devil ray and basking shark, and it is high time to show such leadership again,” said Sonja Fordham, Shark Alliance Policy Director.

Nearly 60 per cent of Malta’s 35 species of sharks are considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as threatened with extinction. The main shark targeted in Malta, spiny dogfish, is classified as endangered in the Mediterranean. Maltese fishermen also take critically endangered porbeagle and angular rough sharks.

The European Commission released in February 2009 the Community Plan of Action for Sharks, which sets the stage for sweeping improvements in EU shark policies, including the finning ban.

The Shark Alliance is a coalition of 70 conservation, scientific and diving organisations dedicated to improving EU shark policies, including Nature Trust (Malta), Sharklab (Malta) and Sharkman's World Organisation.

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