Shark Alliance names EU Shark Champions winners
The Shark Alliance has named the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands as the 2009 Shark Champions in its three-month EU Member State Challenge. The program’s goal is to encourage countries to implement the European Commission’s new EU Shark Plan, which includes immediate shark-finning ban revisions and support of near zero EU catch limits for the threatened spiny dogfish, porbeagle and deepwater shark species.
“For threatened spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks, Germany has demonstrated leadership within both fisheries and wildlife arenas, setting an example for not only Europe but the rest of the world,” said Heike Zidowitz, Shark Alliance Coordinator for Germany.
Germany and the U.K. have been among the EU member states that issue special fishing permits that allow shark fin removal at sea.
“We are pleased by the U.K.’s scrutiny of their shark fin removal permits and urge them to discontinue them,” added Ali Hood, conservation director for the Shark Trust, a Shark Alliance member. “The U.K. broke ground with domestic protection for basking and angel sharks, but national safeguards for additional species are clearly warranted and urgent.”
Other EU countries were placed into several different categories according to their protection -- or lack there of -- the shark species. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovenia were placed in the “helping sharks, but should do more” category, while Austria, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovakia all failed to respond to the Shark Alliance queries and were placed into the “not helping sharks” category.
Spain and Portugal were singled out in the “hurting sharks” category due to their resistance against strengthening the EU shark-finning ban and lack of willingness to communicate with the Shark Alliance. France was put into a unique “helping and hurting sharks” category due to both their support of a stronger EU finning ban and simultaneous obstruction of a proposed closure of a porbeagle shark fishery.
The Czech Republic earned a special “honourable mention” category for publicizing the Shark Plan and leading a strong response from the Council of Fisheries Ministers.
As for future EU support of the Shark Plan, the Alliance hopes that Sweden, the next EU President, will continue to increase the movement against shark finning in the EU.
“Since the beginning of the Shark Alliance, Sweden has had a particular interest in stopping shark finning and with the upcoming presidency, they are well positioned to encourage the European Commission to deliver a proposal to strengthen the EU ban on finning,” said Sonja Fordham, policy director for the Shark Alliance.
As for other EU countries, Fordham said, “We continue to request meetings with these countries' fisheries officials and we hope to broaden our reach further in several of these countries via European Shark Week (ESW) 2009, which will be taking place in October.”