Citizens Launch Initiative to ban Shark Fin Trade in Europe

Posted: 3rd February 2020 | Written by: Naomi Chadderton

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Sea Shepherd and other NGOs have united with citizens from across Europe to demand the end of the shark fin trade in the European Union (EU) and increase the protection of these fragile but key species. This trade relies on the wasteful and unethical practice of cutting the fins off sharks and discarding the animal back into the ocean while it is often still alive. Because of their high commercial value and use in a traditional soup in Asian culture, the practice of shark finning still occurs and Europe is one of the major players in the global fin trade.

Sharks are Crucial to a Healthy Ocean

Every year, between 63 and 273 million sharks are killed, and many species are increasingly threatened worldwide[1]. Globally sharks are targeted for their meat and liver oil, but the biggest threat is still shark finning. The steep erosion of shark populations across the globe has severe impacts, as many sharks are ‘apex predators’ and play an active role in maintaining healthy and productive marine ecosystems.

A Chance for Change

The ‘Stop Finning — Stop the Trade’ European Citizens’ Initiative, whose substitute representative is Sea Shepherd Global CEO Alex Cornelissen, started collecting signatures on 1 February 2020. With just one year to collect one million votes by EU citizens, we’re calling on all Sea Shepherd supporters in the European Union to participate and help us blow right past that number. Let’s send a clear message to the EU parliament that it is time to make a change!

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EU Laws Must be Strengthened

By demanding the “end the trade of fins in the EU including the import, export, and transit of fins other than if naturally attached to the animal's body”, these citizens aim to strengthen the EU’s legal framework. Should their endeavor succeed, the European Commission could then decide to propose a new regulation to achieve this goal.[2]

Such a new regulation would go one big step further than the current EU legal framework, which requires — since 2013 and for all EU vessels — that fins remain attached to the carcass of the shark until unloading at port. However, fins can then be separated and traded across the world. While a steep improvement from the EU’s former regulation[3] this requirement thus still allows fins to be traded across Europe and EU fishers to feed Asia’s strong demand for shark fin soup.

Other Countries are Ahead of the EU

In June 2019, Canada became the first country of the G7 group to ban shark fin imports on its territory[4] and citizens around the world are increasingly requesting the end of such cruel and useless practices. Europe must follow suit.

European citizens have the power to show their will of stronger wildlife protection to the EU’s decision makers. At a time when the scientific community regularly rings the alarm bell regarding the steep biodiversity’s erosion[5] and the risks associated with climate change[6] we have no choice but to change our production and consumption patterns. It is high time to end the shark fin trade in Europe!

To demand the end of shark fin trade in the European Union and help support the cause, please visit this linkhttps://eci.ec.europa.eu/012/public

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