For sixth year in succession, the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) failed to secure adequate protection for shark species. South Africa is a founding ICCAT member.
In particular, the meeting failed to adopt a resolution requiring ICCAT's 49 member states to ensure that their fishing vessels land all sharks with fins attached in a bid to substantially halt the reprehensible practice of finning at sea. At present, ICCAT requires the weight of all fins on board vessels to account for 5% of the total shark trunk weight (a fin-to-shark weight ratio) when landed. This is of course a significant loophole which is regularly abused.
The defeated proposal, which was co-sponsored by South Africa, would have required that fins must be landed naturally attached to the shark. Japan and China effectively blocked the proposal to adopt the "fins-attached" resolution.
However, we believe that South Africa should nevertheless proceed now and commence with a process of instituting domestic management measures requiring all foreign vessels calling at South African ports to ensure that fins are attached to sharks, failing which permission to enter our territorial waters (including ports) should be denied. South African vessels should be obliged to land all sharks with fins attached in terms of their 2015 annual fishing permit conditions ... if of course the SA government gets around to extending the fishing rights allocated to the large pelagic fishery which expire on 28 February 2015.