Since the end of last year we have been talking about the “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade” European Citizens’ Initiative. But who is behind the initiative? Why do we need at least 1 million votes? What can we achieve once we gathered them? And what is our goal?
So many questions that we would like to answer in this blog article:
Who is behind the European Citizens’ Initiative?
A group of citizens from across Europe have united and demand the end of the shark fin trade in the European Union (EU) to demand the trade of shark fins within the EU, so as to increase the protection of these fragile but key species. Together they have registered a so-called European Citizens’ Initiative at the EU Commission and started collecting votes since February 1st2020. This initiative is already supported by 20 environmental NGOs, including SEA SHEPHERD, SHARKPROJECT, BLOOM, Blue Sharks, APECE, iSea, The Global Shark Conservation Initiative (TGSCI), STOP FINNING, Sharks Mission France, Sharks Educational Institute (SEI), Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz, Mundus maris, Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine, Deutsche Meeresstiftung, VDST, Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz (DSM), Shark Savers Germany, The Dolphins’ Voice, Pro Wildlife and EJF, and more organisations keep joining.
Why do we need at least 1 million votes?
To explain that, we have to go a little further back. Since 2012, EU citizens have had the opportunity to submit changes to European law directly to the European Commission. However, this is only possible through a so-called citizens’ initiative. In order to submit an initiative, a committee with at least 7 members from 7 different EU nations must be involved. After the Commission has examined and approved the initiative, there is a year to collect at least 1 million signatures.
The ‘Stop Finning — Stop the Trade’ initiative not only faces this major hurdle, there is also a minimum number of votes in the EU countries that must be reached in at least ¼ of the countries. Currently, this corresponds to 7 EU countries. The minimum number is determined by the number of members of each member state in the EU Parliament and is then multiplied by approximately 750. This corresponds to 72,096 votes that need to be gathered only in Germany.
What can we achieve with the votes?
If the citizens ‘initiative reaches 1 millionvotes within the stipulated period, the citizens’ committee must be heard publicly by the European Commission in the EU Parliament. After that, the Commission has up to three months to discuss how to proceed. If the initiative is successful, the proposal is accepted and an amendment to the law is initiated. If it is rejected, the Commission must at least explain the underlying specific reasons.
What is our goal?
Between 63-273 million sharks are killed each year. Because of the dark digit, the total number cannot be determined exactly. Many shark species are already on the IUCN red list and threatened to become extinct. The greatest threat is posed by humans and their greed for shark fins, which are mainly consumed in Asia. However, sharks are crucial for the marine ecosystem because they are at the top of the food chain and contribute significantly to the health of the reefs. We aim at protecting this fragile and key species, so that their populations have a chance to increase again.
Therefore, we support the European Citizens’ Initiative, which demands a halt to the trade of shark fins in the EU. Such a trade prohibition presents a key strategy to protect sharks. This is why in the first step we are supporting to collect the required number of votes, including the minimum number in the 7 EU-countries.
How can you support us?
Now it’s YOUR TURN: Join in and give us YOUR VOTE to stop the trade of shark fins in the EU. This will finally pose a crucial signal for effective shark protection: https://eci.ec.europa.eu/012/public