European Parliament Votes to Stop Shark Finning

First Posted: Nov 23, 2012 05:35 AM EST

The European Parliament voted Thursday to close loopholes in European Union (EU) policy over shark finning.

In 2003, the EU banned removal of shark fins but  exempted those fishermen having special permits to cut off fins from sharks legally. The issuing of Special Fishing Permits (SFPs) to fishing vessels prevented the 2003 EU ban to be implemented fully and effectively, reported BBC.

Now that the European Parliament is voting to close all loopholes in the EU policy, marine conservationists have welcomed the move saying that it will help in shark conservation. They believe the ban will play a significant role in  their efforts to protect the sharks.

"Parliament's vote represents a major milestone in the global effort to end the wasteful practice," Sandrine Polti, EU shark policy adviser for the Pew Environmental Group and the Shark Alliance, told BBC.

"[We have] been working toward this and other fundamental reforms in European shark policies for more than six years and are thrilled with today's vote and the progress we expect to stem from it," she said.

Sharks are facing a major threat from humans. The increasing demand for shark fin soup in Asia has threatened the survival of the endangered species.  A recent study by researchers from UK and Portugal noted that demand for shark fin soup is the main cause for the decline of blue sharks off the British coast.

According to recent reports from Pew, around 73 million sharks are killed every year to support the shark fin industries across the globe. A low birth rate and slow growth rate has affected the recovery of sharks, with several species facing a threat of extinction.

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