Safeguard against savagery

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2003

Finning is sinning (Credit: University of California Irvin)The European Union (eu) recently approved a plan to control the fishing and landing of sharks. The proposal aims to curb the repulsive practice of "finning", by which fisherfolk hack the fins of sharks and dump their bodies back into the water.

The fins of some species of sharks can fetch up to us $15,000 each in China. They are considered valuable in other parts of Asia too. Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy at Chinese wedding banquets and is believed to be a symbol of wealth. Up to 40 sharks may be killed to supply enough broth for a wedding.

The proposed rule seeks to ban eu-registered ships and non-eu vessels fishing in European waters from landing or selling shark fins that are removed on board. But fins can be removed by proving that all shark parts are being used efficiently. The bloc's fisheries ministers will discuss the plan in May.

European fisherfolk export large quantities of shark fins to Hong Kong, the most important market.

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