Skip to main content

EU Shark Finning Ban

Image of divers with the EU shark finning ban sign

Shark finning – slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea - has been banned in the European Union (EU) since 2003. Yet, exemptions in the law made a mockery of the ban.

In November 2012, after six years of debate the Parliament voted to close loopholes in the ban. In June 2013, the EU Council of Ministers formally adopted a strengthened ban on shark finning. As of July 06th 2013, sharks caught by EU vessels anywhere in the world must be landed with their fins naturally attached. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without you so....

Thank you for Protecting Sharks from Finning

EU Shark Journey

When Project AWARE joined the Shark Alliance as a Steering Group member in 2006, our aims were to secure an EU Plan of Action for sharks and a strong and enforceable shark finning ban. For six years, Shark Alliance worked strategically with key EU officials from virtually each of the 27 member countries. Our work led:

  • The EU Commission to adopt the Community Plan of Action for Sharks (CPOA) in 2009.
  • MEPs to sign a Written Declaration in support of strengthening the EU finning ban in 2010. The Written Declaration was then endorsed as a Resolution of the Parliament and forwarded to the EU Commission. As a result, the EU Commission launched a public consultation on options for how to best change the regulation in 2011.
  • MEPs to vote overwhelmingly in favour of the EU Commission proposal to impose the best practice for finning ban enforcement - a prohibition on removing shark fins at sea with no exceptions.
  • The EU Council of Ministers to formally adopt a strengthened EU ban on shark finning in June 2013 Divers are Serious about Sharks For six years, you stood by us.

Divers are Serious about Sharks

You supported our work and took action with us every year during the European Shark Week showing decision makers that divers are serious about sharks:

  • In 2007, you’ve signed a paper fin and “Made Your Fins Count” during European Shark Week.
  • In 2008, you called on European Fisheries and Environment Ministers to promote a strong European Plan of Action for sharks helping us collect more than 100,000 petition signatures.
  • In 2009, you joined the “Predator Turned Prey” petition campaign. 93,000 of you have called on Fisheries Ministers to follow through on the Plan’s initiatives and urged Spain to end its opposition to improving the EU ban on shark finning.
  • In 2010, you sent letters to MEPs urging them to sign the Written Declaration in support of a strong EU finning ban.
  • In 2011, you called on National Fisheries Ministers in EU Member States to close loopholes in the ban by signing the “Make the Push” petition.
  • And finally, in 2012, you voiced your support online and submitted photos to the EU Shark Journey legacy website while we walked the halls to secure the final vote.

Why does a strong, enforceable finning ban matter?

The EU shark finning ban was one of the weakest in the world, yet the EU is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia. With a “fins naturally attached with no exceptions” policy in place, the EU, given the global scale of its fisheries and the international influence of its shark management policies, is in a prime position to push for game changing shark conservation measures.

What’s next?

Strong of this victory and our joint CITES success, we continue to push for critical safeguards for vulnerable shark and ray species when and where it matters most. There's no stopping us now! Stay tuned for the latest in shark conservation and join the Finathon™ challenge to secure funds critical to protecting sharks!

Action Promo Image
#LoveTheUnloved Photo Contest
Show your support for the listing of sea cucumbers at CITES CoP18. It's time to #LoveTheUnloved

From the My Ocean Community

My Ocean is a growing community of conservation leaders. Together, our actions add up to global impact for our ocean planet.