Previous stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation
This page describes the state of the program improvement in the past.
The improvement left this stage on 12 April 2011; view the current state.

Improvement overview

Shark finning refers to the practice of removing any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) while at sea and discarding the remainder of the shark at sea (Memorandum Of Understanding on the conservation of migratory shark, MOU, 2010). The following list highlights the main issues associated with this practice:


  • Cruelty: Sharks are thrown back into the sea where the sharks bleed to death, suffocate or are eaten by other animals.
  • Waste: Finning and discarding of shark bodies wastes protein and other potential products. Only 2-5% of the shark is utilised.
  • Fishery management: Usually this practice is unregulated and hinders estimation of stock status, jeopardizing shark management plans.
  • Species-specific shark catch information is usually lost.

Shark finning is gaining recognition around the world as an unacceptable and illegal practice. It is recognized as illegal by more than 20 countries and most of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) have bans on shark finning 9 (Fowler and Fordham, 2010). Further there are several UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolutions that call for a ban of shark finning. In line with our usual process of reviewing our standards and requirements in relation to current scientific understanding and global best practice in fisheries management, the MSC is looking to review, and possibly revise and clarify the requirements with respect to shark finning.

Current status

This issue will be considered for prioritization by the Technical Sub-Committee of the MSC's Senior Management Team. If prioritized, a project plan will be developed and will include opportunities for stakeholder consultation in the further development of options to address it.

Planned work

The initial project aims to understand how and to what extent the shark finning issue is addressed in the CR and consistent with best practices.

The expected outcome of this work is that assessments of fisheries reflect best practices, are in line with the intent of the fisheries Standard, and satisfy our strategic objectives of globally relevant and consistent certification requirements.

Develop a problem statement for consideration by the Technical Sub-Committee.