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Petition to end EU shark fin trade gathers pace

Energize Editors

Energize Editors

An online petition seeking to end the EU shark fin trade has until January 2022 to secure one million signatures.

The ‘Stop Finning — Stop the Trade’ European Citizens’ Initiative started collecting signatures on 1 February 2020 attracting more than 200,000 signatures.

However, greater support is needed and EU citizens have until January 31 next year to back the cause.

If you have an EU passport you can register your vote here https://eci.ec.europa.eu/012/public to increase protection of these fragile but key species.

This shark fin 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. 

Although the removal of fins on board of EU vessels and in EU waters is prohibited – and sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached – once unloaded at port the restrictions are lifted and fins can then be separated and traded across the world.

The EU is among the biggest exporters of fins and a major transit hub for the global fin trade, which largely driven by traditional Asian cuisine demands. Inspections at sea also remain scarce and many fins are still illegally retained, transhipped, or landed in EU.

Sharks are crucial to a healthy ocean

Every year, between 63 and 273 million sharks are killed, and many species are increasingly threatened worldwide. Globally sharks are targeted for their meat and liver oil, but the biggest threat is still shark finning.

The steep decline of shark populations across the globe has severe impacts, as many sharks are ‘apex predators’ and play an essential role maintaining healthy and productive marine ecosystems.

EU laws must be strengthened

By demanding the “end of 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”, the citizens aim to strengthen the EU’s legal framework. Should their endeavour succeed, the European Commission could then propose new regulations to achieve this goal.

Such regulation would go far beyond 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.

Time to act

In June 2019, Canada became the first country of the G7 group to ban shark fin imports on its territory, and citizens around the world are increasingly requesting the end of the cruel and barbaric practice.

As the global scientific community regularly rings the alarm bells, warning of continued erosion of biodiversity and the risks associated with climate change, must come fast in the form of production and consumptions patterns.

It is high time to end the shark fin trade in Europe!

Photo Credit: “File:Yokohama Chinese Medicine Shark fin etc.jpg” by user:Chris 73 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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