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European Shark Week

European Shark Week (ESW) was an annual, Europe-wide, week of activities for supporters and shark enthusiasts. They provided opportunities for learning about shark conservation and enabled people to add their voices to campaigns to secure the future health of shark populations in Europe. From 2007 to 2011, hundreds of thousands of people from all 27 EU member States, divers and aquariums became involved, and contributed to some outstanding results. 

The Shark Alliance coalition outside the EU Commission in Brussels during European Shark Week 2007 © Shark Alliance.
2007  Every fin counts

During the first ESW, more than 100 events were organised by Shark Alliance members across Europe, and 20,000 people called on the European Commission to develop an EU Shark Action Plan. 

2008  Protect our sharks

More than 100,000 people across Europe signed our petition calling on European fisheries and environment ministers to promote a strong Shark Action Plan. Among the many activities our member groups organised was an underwater treasure hunt in the Netherlands, sleepovers with sharks in Spain and an underwater shark picture gallery in Germany.

On 5 February 2009, the European Commission released its Draft Community Plan of Action for Sharks. This was endorsed by the EU Council of fisheries Ministers, which took the opportunity to highlight the need for a stronger finning ban. 

Shark Alliance members Ecologistas en Acción team at their European Shark Week event in Barcelona in 2009.

2009  Predator turned prey

More than 93,000 European citizens called on Spain (responsible for over half of all EU shark landings) to lead rather than impede shark conservation. 

This year, over 300 shark-related events took place, including a Europe-wide colouring competition, with entries displayed in a fishy online gallery. The best pictures were presented to the Spanish Fisheries Minister

Although remaining opposed to moves to close loopholes in the finning ban, later that year Spain became the first EU member state to ban fishing for all species of thresher and hammerhead sharks, adding protection for 10 more species in 2012.
Children signing the Shark Alliance petition an European Shark
Week event in Belgium in 2010
2010  Focus on finning

EU constituents sent tens of thousands of postcards, emails and letters to their Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) asking them to sign a Written Declaration calling on the European Commission to deliver a proposal to prohibit the removal of shark fins on-board vessels. 

A majority of MEPs signed the Written Declaration on finning, which went on to be endorsed as a resolution of the European Parliament. In November 2011, the European Commission issued its proposal to require that all sharks be landed with their ‘fins naturally attached’.

2011  Making the push 

The last ESW was the most successful, as 165,000 people from all 27 EU member states signed a petition calling EU fisheries ministers to complete the unfinished business of the EU Shark Plan and support the proposal to strengthen the EU finning regulation. The petition was presented to fisheries ministers across Europe.

Supporters also collected hundreds of photos and short videos calling on their minister to ‘Make the push to protect Europe’s sharks’.