European countries dominate half of Asian shark fin trade, report reveals
European countries are selling so many shark fins to Asia that they dominate nearly half the trade, a study has found.
Shark populations continue to decline, driven by the global shark fin trade. Last year, scientists found a third of sharks and ray species have been overfished to near-extinction, jeopardising the health of entire ocean ecosystems and food security for many countries.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) analysed almost two decades of customs data in three major Asian trading hubs from 2003 to 2020. It found that while the main market for fin-related products is in Asia, EU countries – led by Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France and Italy – are a significant player in supplying this legal market. China is a big supplier of shark fins but was not covered by the study.
Spain was by far the top source of imports of shark fin to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, supplying 51,795 tonnes, from 2003 to 2020, an annual average of 2,877 tons, ahead of Singapore, with 17,006 tonnes, the report found. More than 50% of the global shark fin trade is in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan province, the report says.
Barbara Slee, the IFAW’s report’s author, said- ‘Small or large, coastal or high seas, shark species are disappearing, with the piecemeal management efforts to date failing to stop their decline.’
She called for the EU to take a leading role by limiting its trade in sharks to protect them from extinction. IFAW want all sharks traded to be listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) appendix II, which would afford them greater protection and monitoring.
EU countries are banned from ‘shark finning’, a practice outlawed in many jurisdictions where fins are removed while the shark is still alive, with the fish then discarded. But the landing and sale of whole sharks is permitted, except for species listed by Cites.
‘Effective fisheries management is often not put in place until a population is very low or threatened, but when it is in place, shark populations have been shown to recover,’ Slee said. ‘As demonstrated in our report, the EU is a key player in global shark markets and it has an important responsibility to enact sustainability requirements.’
Only a quarter of shark products are subject to import and export controls that prove they are legally and sustainably sourced, Slee said.
The study, Supply and Demand- The EU’s role in the global shark trade, found 188,368 tonnes of shark-fin products were imported into Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan province from 2003 to 2020. The EU was responsible for 28% or 53,407 tonnes. Since 2017, as the trade declined, the EU’s proportion of exports to these countries has risen to 45% in 2020.
Stan Shea, of the ocean conservation group BLOOM Association Hong Kong, and the report’s co-author, said- ‘Although many place the burden of change on the consumptive countries, primarily in Asia, equally responsible for declines in shark populations are all countries with internationally operating fishing fleets and trade in shark products.’
The report also found data discrepancies in import and export figures, suggesting potential misreporting in the trade in shark fins.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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