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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement12 March 2024Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

European Commission seeks public opinion on ways to improve protection of sharks

Great white shark underwater view, Guadalupe Island, Mexico.

Today, the European Commission published a questionnaire seeking the feedback from the public on policy options to better protect and manage sharks and related marine ecosystems.

The aim of this consultation is to gather the views of the public to ensure an informed follow-up to the 2023 European citizens’ initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade”. It follows the call for evidence, launched on 22 February 2024 to collect data and expertise from stakeholders, on a potential ban on exports and imports of loose shark fins as well as their sales within the EU market.

“The citizens’ initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade” gathered more than 1 million signatures: it is clear that how we treat sharks is an issue close to the hearts of many Europeans. While assessing environmental, social and economic impacts of measures that could improve shark protection, we also seek views of a wider public, to make sure that the European Commission’s response to this initiative is the best possible one.”

Virginijus Sinkevicius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries

Today’s public consultation is addressed to civil society at large, in and outside the EU

  • citizens
  • non-governmental organisations
  • economic operators of the fisheries value chains
  • trade unions and consumers’ organisations
  • researchers and members of the academia
  • public authorities and international organisations

Next steps

The questionnaire will be available online for a period of twelve weeks, until 4 June 2024.

The feedback received through both channels will feed into an ongoing impact assessment. Any potential future European Commission action in this respect will be formulated considering the results of that assessment, and therefore of these public consultations.


As part of the response to the European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade”, the European Commission is considering potential measures to step up shark protection and management, including

  • a possibility to only allow commercialisation of sharks with their fins attached – be it for consumption within the EU or for international trade (imports and exports)
  • bilateral agreements with the main international partners involved in shark fishing and consumption
  • sustainability certification schemes for shark products, and
  • promotion of a global trade ban on trade in loose shark fins

The overall European Commission’s response to the initiative presented in July 2023 already includes

  • enhanced enforcement of existing conservation and management measures
  • stepping up international outreach to reduce shark fin consumption and end finning practices worldwide

Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems and are vulnerable to human activities. Despite efforts to improve the conservation and management of sharks in recent years, many populations of sharks are in a critical situation. Over one third of shark species are threatened with extinction, i.e. considered critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. The European Commission acknowledges that shark finning is one of the main threats for the conservation of these species.

More information

Public consultation questionnaire

Call for evidence

European Citizens’ Initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade”

Commission’s communication in response to the ECI “Stop finning – Stop the Trade”

Press release - Commission welcomes European citizens' initiative and will explore ways to address trade in shark fins (July 2023)


Publication date
12 March 2024
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries