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Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation
This page describes the state of the program improvement in the past.
The improvement left this stage on 20 July 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 has been prioritized for further work in the coming months. A project plan has been developed, and activities 1-3 (listed below) are underway.

Planned work

The objective of this project is to ensure the MSC requirements are consistent with international best practice management. The expected outcome of this work is that assessments of fisheries discards 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.

Activities planned:

Activity 1:Identify how shark finning practices are defined and addressed within the CR

Activity 2:Identify best practices used by fisheries management agencies in relation to discarding.

Activity 3: Prepare a paper to the TAB in December, 2011 with a proposal for the next phases of the project and sequencing of resulting changes to the certification requirements.

Activity 4: Incorporate agreed recommendations for immediate action into a paper for public consultation (following MSC consultation procedure) in March 2012.

Activity 5: Working groups schedule to work in preparing options and recommendations

Activity 6: Incorporate agreed recommendations for immediate action into a paper for public consultation (following MSC consultation procedure) in June- August 2012.

Activity 8: Public consultation late June- early August 2012 on CR amendments to be proposed for sign-off in late 2012.

Activity 9: A TAB paper will be drafted specifying the changes to CR for sign-off in late 2012

Activity 10: Changes incorporated into the CR. New version of the CR released late 2012 to be implemented early 2013