Supporter of the EU Citizens' Initiative

EU Citizens' Initiative: Stop Finning - Stop the Trade

Stop the finning - Stop the trade!

Every year, between 63 and 273 million sharks die from fishing. This figure is probably underestimated due to the lack of reliable data and the extremely high number of unreported cases of illegal fishing worldwide.

Sharks are hunted worldwide, mainly for their fins. These are consumed as shark fin soup, especially in Asia. You can pay up to 90 € for this supposed delicacy, which contains only a few grams of fins. A lucrative business with huge profit margins at the expense of the sharks! The fins are often collected in a cruel way by "finning". Finning" involves cutting off the sharks' fins in the sea while the animal is still alive. The rest of the shark is thrown overboard, as its meat is almost worthless compared to the fins. Without fins, the sharks sink to the bottom of the sea where they suffocate, bleed to death or are eaten alive.

This shark fin business is also supplied from Europe. Since 2013, the European Union's "Fins Naturally Attached" regulation has banned the storage, transhipment and landing of all shark fins in EU waters and on all EU vessels without exception. The fins must remain naturally attached to the carcass when the vessel unloads in port. The fins can then be separated from the animal and exported to Asia. In 2016 alone, Spain officially landed 53,000 tonnes of blue shark, equivalent to about 1.75 million animals. Despite the increasing threat, the total catch of blue sharks in the Atlantic, for example, has almost doubled since the beginning of the millennium. In addition, other shark species are hunted in Europe, some of which are more threatened, such as the shortfin mako shark and the porbeagle. This catch is almost exclusively profitable because of the fins.

On average, almost 3,500 tonnes of fins with a total value of around 52 million euros are exported from the EU every year. Due to sporadic inspections of fishing vessels at sea, no one can say for sure how many shark fins are illegally landed in Europe. Even more worrying is the situation in the global shark fin trade. Only a few countries have passed a "Fins Naturally Attached" law (e.g. USA, Canada, India, South Africa). In many countries, finning is still allowed. Therefore, there is still a huge amount of fins on the world market whose origin is rarely traceable, but which can be legally traded in and through Europe.

That is why we demand: The trade in shark fins in Europe must be stopped immediately! The barbaric practice can only be stopped when regulation makes the trade financially unviable. The "Fins Naturally Attached" regulation in the European Union must be extended to the export, import and transit of sharks and rays. The current Fins Naturally Attached Regulation states that "sharks are not a traditional European food, but they are a necessary component of European marine ecosystems". It is time for Europe to finally act consistently to protect sharks and our oceans! That's why we're asking you to support this opportunity to expand legislation in the European Union to protect our oceans.

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Europe is also involved in this trade, whether by catching and processing sharks itself or as a central transshipment point for fins from around the world.  

Voluntary measures to restrict fishing are not to be expected. On the contrary, demand for the coveted fins is increasing. And where there is demand, there is profit. 

The only viable option lies in appropriate legislation. The first steps in this direction have already been taken in the EU since 2013. The "Fins Naturally Attached" regulation prohibits the storage, transhipment and landing of any loose shark fins on EU vessels. This should ban the cruel practice of shark finning and achieve a general decrease in European shark fishing.  

The reality, however, is different. Although there was a brief decline in catches, the targeted marketing of shark meat quickly brought them back to their original levels. As soon as the animals are landed, they can still legally have their fins removed. And as long as this and the trade in loose fins is allowed, Europe will continue to be one of the main transshipment centres.  

There is also the problem of illegal trade in CITES species in Europe. Without genetic analyses it is almost impossible to 

The aim must be to extend the "Fins Naturally Attached" regulation to ban the complete import, transit & export of loose fins. 


  • Support the EU citizens' initiative "Stop Finning - Stop the Trade" with the aim of banning the trade of shark fins.


A 12-month period for collecting votes began with the launch of the initiative. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline has already been extended twice. The deadline was 31 January 2022 and the European Commission now has 6 months to reply.


Link to the website of the citizens initiative:

Official page of the EU of the campaign:

The EU Citizens’ Initiative 

Since 2012, EU citizens can personally get involved in shaping European legislation. Through an EU Citizens' Initiative, they can directly address the European Commission to propose legislative changes. 

First, an organizers' group of at least seven EU citizens residing in seven different EU countries is established. This group then registers the initiative for the proposed legislative changes with the European Commission. Not every initiative is accepted because specific contextual and formal requirements have to be met. 

As soon as the Commission gives the green light, the collection of signatures can begin. At least 1 million eligible signatures must be obtained within one year. All EU citizens who are old enough to vote in European elections are eligible to sign. In Germany, the minimum age is 18 years old, in Austria 16 years old.  

Signatures can be registered either online directly with the EU Commission or on paper. The initiative is eventually submitted if the minimum number is reached within the deadline (and these votes stand up to scrutiny). In the next step, representatives of the organizing group present the issue to the European Parliament in a public hearing.  

At the latest six months after submitting the final count, the Commission must announce its further action or rejection of the proposed legislative amendment. If the decision is favourable, the initiative will now go through the relevant legislative procedure and changes are made to the laws.

Project history

02/01/2020 - Registered
Commission registration number: ECI(2020)000001

31/01/2020- Start of the collection period

New end date for collection in line with Regulation (EU) 2020/1042, Decision C(2020) 9226 and Decision C(2021) 1121

31/01/2022- 1.202.121 votes collected

21/10/22 - 1.119.996 verified votes

11/01/2023- Submissionof the votes

06/02/2023- meeting with delegates of European Commission

27/03/2023- Open hearing at the European Parliament