Shark Finning Ban in Eastern Pacific Likely

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Posted by on June 22, 2005 at 00:30:43:

WASHINGTON, DC, June 21, 2005 (ENS) - Shark finning in the eastern Pacific Ocean is likely to be banned this week by governments that are members of a regional fisheries management body meeting in Spain. Shark finning is the practice of slicing the fin off the shark and discarding the carcass to save space on a fishing vessel.

Members of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) gathered in Lanzarote, Spain to consider fishery management and conservation measures are poised to ban shark finning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is representing the United States at the meeting.

The commission has been considering proposals to end shark finning in the eastern Pacific Ocean for more than a year, NOAA said.

"Recent increases in shark catches, as well as an expansion of the geographic areas fished, have led to global concern about the status of some shark populations. International cooperation is critical as many species of sharks are highly migratory, and regularly cross national boundaries throughout all oceans of the world," NOAA said in a statement Monday.

In 1993, NOAA prohibited U.S. vessels from shark finning in waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The United States proclaimed shark finning to be a wasteful practice in the Shark Finning Prohibition Act adopted by Congress in 2000. In 2002, the finning prohibition was extended to apply to all persons under U.S. jurisdiction, including all U.S. vessels fishing in Pacific waters.

Most IATTC signatory nations have already expressed their agreement with the spirit of the proposals. An international ban in the Pacific is now considered by many to be ripe for approval, given that an international shark finning ban for the Atlantic Ocean was adopted in November 2004.

In November 63 countries, including the United States, reached an agreement in New Orleans to ban shark finning in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea. This binding agreement was formally adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and is now being implemented by all member countries.

The ICCAT agreement is now on the table for consideration at the meeting in Lanzarote. NOAA said Monday, "It is widely expected that this measure will be given serious consideration and adopted, given the momentum of recent events."

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