Thursday, October 8, 2009

European Shark Week 2009: no Jaws hype, just the facts

In the past I have blogged about shark conservation issues that involve the European Union and their regulations regarding commercial shark fishing or the recognition of certain shark species as being threatened. (Most recent post on the subject.)

The Save Our Seas Foundation, a leading ocean conservation group that puts an emphasis on the current fate of sharks worldwide, has been promoting European Shark Week 2009 (no, not the Discovery Channel's) which will take place starting this Saturday. Here's some information about the event from Save Our Seas:

Join us in European Shark Week 2009, 10-18 October 2009

Predator turned prey
Turning the Tide for Sharks

Most European shark populations are declining from overfishing. One-third are threatened with extinction. The EU ban on “finning” – slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea – is among the world’s weakest.

Hope lies with the new Shark Plan, adopted by the European Commission thanks in large part to support from many of you. The Plan sets the stage for vast improvements in EU shark policies, including the finning ban. Its success depends on collaboration and action by EU Fisheries Ministers and the European Commission. These fishery managers need encouragement from the European public to follow through on the Plan’s initiatives and truly safeguard sharks.

European Shark Week 2009
This year’s European Shark Week will take place from 10-18 October. It’s a unique opportunity for people across Europe to demonstrate their support for shark conservation and effect change.

What is European Shark Week?
The Shark Alliance has declared one week in October as European Shark Week – a time for enthusiasts to express their fascination and concern for sharks, bring new voices to the debate about their conservation, and encourage policy makers to secure the future health of their populations.

Are there sharks in Europe?
European waters contain a diverse array of about 70 species of sharks, more than 50 species of skates and rays, and seven species of chimaeras. Sharks and rays are found from the cold North Sea to the warmest waters of the Mediterranean Sea, from estuaries to the deep ocean depths, and even in the Baltic and Black Seas.

Isn’t there already a European Union finning ban?
Yes, the EU has banned finning for all its vessels and prohibits generally all removal of fins from sharks on board vessels. However, a derogation to the ban allows the removal of fins from sharks under a “special fishing permit” and uses a complicated and excessive fin-to-carcass ratio to try and ensure no shark carcasses are dumped overboard. This loophole, together with the legal ability for vessels to land shark fins and bodies in separate ports, make the EU ban one of the weakest finning prohibitions in the world.

The Save Our Seas Foundation is working with many organization throughout Europe to help spread the word and educate more and more people regarding the current fate of sharks and the critical role they play in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.

SOS . . . keep up the great work!

For the latest news on European Shark Week follow the SOSF European Shark Week Blog

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