Sea Shepherd’s campaign to end the EU’s shark finning trade has gained more than one million votes.
The marine conservation group was one of the founding organizations of the European Citizens Initiative “Stop Finning, Stop the Trade,” which was launched in February 2020.
While the practice of shark finning is illegal in Europe, a report earlier this year found that EU countries were responsible for half of the Asian shark fin trade. This is because countries are allowed to sell whole sharks, except for a limited number of species.
The European Citizens Initiative enables citizens of EU countries to call on the European Commission to propose new laws. Once an initiative receives one million votes, the European Commission will decide on what action to take.
For an initiative to gain one million signatures, one in 400 adult EU citizens will need to cast their vote.
Posting to Instagram, Sea Shepherd confirmed that it had received 1,119,999 validated votes. This result came after France gave it 289,413 votes. It added that the ball is now “in the EU court.”
The campaign to end the shark finning trade
Shark finning is the process of removing a fin from a shark, mostly when they are still conscious. De-finned sharks will often be thrown back into the sea while alive, meaning they suffer a slow and agonizing death.
Shark fins are highly valuable, as they are used to make shark fin soup, a traditional delicacy in China and Chinese communities.
It is estimated that between 73 and 100 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins. There has been a 70 percent decline in global shark populations in the past 50 years.
Sea Shepherd’s campaign to end the EU’s participation in the trade got off to a slower start than it had anticipated. By November 2021, it had only received 350,000 votes.
According to the organization, the limited progress was due to the pandemic.
“We were relying heavily on going out onto the streets in Europe to advocate for our cause and to gather signatures,” a statement from the group noted. “Instead we had to make this a campaign that relies almost exclusively on online outreach.”
Sea Shepherd reached its goal in October 2022. You can monitor the initiative’s progress here.