The campaign to end the shark fin trade across the European Union (EU) has successfully reached – and greatly exceeded – the required 1,000,000 statements of support from EU citizens and the minimum supporting thresholds from at least seven member states.
As of 26 January 2022, the number of statements of support for the EU Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) raised by the campaign group Stop Finning EU, calling for an end to the trade in shark fins has surpassed 1,108,532.
Twelve EU countries have also reached their minimum thresholds required for the EU administration to take action, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
The news comes almost a year to the day that the European Parliament extended the deadline for data collection from its original deadline of 31 July 2021 until 31 October 2021 – and subsequently 31 January 2022 – due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
At that time, no member states had reached their required threshold of collected statements. In a report published by DIVE on 27 January 2021, we found that just 155,749 statements of support across all 27 member states had been collected. Only France was close to reaching its national target, with 89 per cent of its threshold met; German support stood at just 58.56 per cent.
Following a year of campaigning by conservation groups and media, France and Germany’s totals now stand at a massive 531.95 per cent and 657.71 per cent, respectively.
The carcass of a finned shark, thrown overboard and left to die (Photo: Shutterstock)
Shark finning – as in the barbaric practice of cutting fins from live sharks and casting the still-living animal back into the sea – is banned across the EU, however, the trade in shark fins from sharks which are legally landed – with ‘fins naturally attached’ – is not, which led to a 2015 proposal for a ban on transporting 20kg of shark fins throughout the EU ‘for personal consumption’ being rejected by the European Commission.
The UK’s departure from the European Union meant that UK citizens were unable to participate in the ECI. However, the import and export of shark fins was banned by the UK government in May 2021, following the successful ‘Finspire Change’ campaign led by shark conservation charties such as Shark Guardian and the Shark Trust, who have also campaigned incessantly to generate support for Stop Finning EU.
The EU Commission is legally obliged to react to the results of the ECI within six months.
For more information on the Stop Finning EU campaign, visit the official campaign website at www.stop-finning-eu.org, and follow its progress on the Stop Finning EU Facebook page, @stopfinningeu on Instagram and @stopfinningeu on Twitter.