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Deepsea Shark Liver Oil the New Marine Gold for Pirates

05 October 2012

EU - Oceana has called upon the European Commission to amend weak EU laws that leave European markets open to liver oil from illegally caught deep-sea sharks.

In recent months, vessels which are internationally blacklisted because of previous Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing activities (IUU fishing) have been engaging in rampant pirate fishing for deep-sea sharks in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Although the EU regulation on IUU fishing is intended to prohibit illegally-caught fish from entering the European market, a loophole in this law means that it does not apply to shark liver oil.

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe has called for immediate action: “Vulnerable deep-sea sharks have become the new gold pursued by internationally renowned poachers – including vessels that have been linked to European interests. As long as EU rules against IUU fishing neglect this product, European borders remain wide open to illegal shark liver oil.”

Deep-sea sharks are found in all of the world’s oceans. They are targeted by fishing fleets for their liver oil (which is used in Omega-3 dietary supplements, in cosmetics, and as industrial lubricants), and also for their fins and meat. With slow growth rates and late maturity, these species are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation.

“Concerns about the unsustainability of catching deep-sea sharks have led to a growing number of prohibitions on these fisheries, including within the EU,” added Dr Allison Perry, marine wildlife scientist for Oceana Europe. “Clearly, it’s inconsistent for the EU to ban these fisheries, yet to leave the door open for illegal shark liver oil to enter the European market.”

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