Stop Finning – Stop the trade!

Every year, between 63 and 273 million sharks die as a result of human activity.[1] The exact numbers remain speculation, as there is a lack of reliable data and the worldwide number of unreported cases of illegal fishing is extremely high. Sharks are hunted worldwide, primarily because of their fins. These are eaten especially in the Asian region as shark fin soup. For this supposed delicacy, with a few grams of fins, up to 90€ are required.[2] A lucrative business with huge profit margins at the expense of the sharks!

The fins are often caught in a cruel way by “finning”. Finning means that the sharks’ fins are cut off alive. The animals are then thrown overboard because their meat is almost worthless compared to the fins. Without fins the sharks sink to the seabed where they suffocate, bleed to death or are eaten alive.

This business is also served from Europe.

Since 2013, the so-called “Fins Naturally Attached” regulation of the European Union prohibits without exception the storage, transhipment and landing of all shark fins in EU waters and on all EU ships. The fins must remain naturally attached to the carcass when the ship is unloaded in port. The fins can then be separated from the animal and exported to Asia.

It is time to finally take consistent action in Europe to protect sharks and our oceans! Therefore, we ask you to support this opportunity to rethink legislation in the European Union.

1 IUCN Shark Specialist Group, Frequently Asked Questions: Sharks, Rays, and chimaeras; https://www.iucnssg.org/faqs.html.
2 Kimley, Peter A. Peter, The Biology of Sharks and Rays, 2013, S. 451.

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The EU Citizens’ Initiative

The European Citizens’ Initiative is the direct way to propose a concrete legislative change to the European Commission, as opposed to a petition decided by the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament.

As of 2012, EU citizens have had the right to apply directly to the European Commission with a European Citizens’ Initiative in order to propose a concrete legislative amendment.

To do this, a citizens’ committee must first be set up, consisting of at least seven members* from at least seven different EU countries. After successful assessment of the initiative by the European Commission, the Citizens’ Committee has one year to collect signatures.

Let me know when the citizens’ initiative starts!

I would like to sign the citizens’ initiative and be informed how to proceed.

Why something has to change …

In the EU in the Finning has been prohibited since 2003 as a result of a regulation ((EC) No 1185/2003). Under this Regulation, fishermen were prohibited from removing shark fins on board vessels. However, a provision was made to allow EU Member States to obtain special authorizations (special fishing permits) to remove fins on board. Spain and Portugal in particular made use of these special permits.

This Regulation was supplemented in 2013 and also removed the possibility of granting any special permits. This stricter “fins-naturally-attached” regulation prohibits all EU vessels and all vessels fishing in EU waters from removing shark fins on board before landing the fish. Once the sharks have been landed, the fins may be removed and transported separately from the shark.

Some countries around the world have already enacted similar laws. [1] However, only a few countries prohibit trade in severed shark fins. This opens up the possibility that even in countries with “fins naturally on the body” regulations, it is no longer possible to trace how the fins were sourced once on land.

Only Appendix I of the Washington Convention provides real safeguards against the commercial use of endangered species. Trade in animal species on this Appendix is prohibited worldwide. For example, the five species of rhinoceros are almost all included in this Annex because of their high risk of extinction. [2]

Both species of African elephants are also heavily protected by the Convention. [3] Here the biodiversity of sharks turns out to be a severe setback. Of the more than 500 shark species, 85 are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List. [4] Nevertheless, no shark species has yet been listed in Appendix I of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Only 10 species have been included in Appendix II, which regulates trade by strict rules but does not prohibit it. And even if trade in individual species is placed under protection, there are still enough others which can be used for the fin trade.

Even for protected species, the protective measures would not be successful with the current regulation. Cargos of shark fins are often a mix from many different species. It is hardly possible to identify any protected species. And so it goes on: If fin trading is permitted worldwide and no sufficient quota of observers can be guaranteed on the vessels of the fishing industry, [5] fins can continue to appear on the market whose origin nobody can explain.

The solution: If sharks are to be protected, the fins must be traceable. We therefore call for the “Fins naturally attached” regulation to be extended to all trade within the EU.

[1] https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Shark-Fishing-and-Finning-Regulations.pdf
[2] https://mobil.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/CITES_Nashoerner.pdf
[3] Due to the population stability of elephants in southern Africa, the populations of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa were downgraded to CITES Appendix II in 1997 and 2000 respectively. However, the ivory of these animals is after an addition to this listing, as Appendix I and may therefore not be traded: https://mobil.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/WWF-Hintergrundpapier-CITES-Elfenbeinhandel.pdf
[4] All species classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable are considered threatened.
[5] The observation rate on Spanish longline fleets fishing swordfish and blue sharks in the Atlantic is only 1-3%; North and South Atlantic swordfish Spanish longline fishery; MSC Public Comment Draft Report, Volume 1; October 2016; page 44 pp

Initiators #stopfinningEU



Nils Kluger
Nationality: German


Alexander Hendrik Cornellissen
Nationality: Dutch

Luis Miguel Fonseca Alves

Katrien Vandevelde

Monica Tenorio de Figueiredo Gabell

Fernando Frias Reis

Frédéric Xavier Le Manach

Julian Engel
United Kingdom

Ioannis Giovis

Verle Gishlain Roelandt

Chrysoula Gkoumpili

Sabine Reinstaller

Fabienne Rossier

Alexandar Dourtchev

Andrew Mark Griffiths
United Kingdom

Supporting organizations