The UK government has announced it is introducing a ‘world-leading’ ban on the controversial shark fin trade, marking an end to all imports and exports.
The move comes to promote shark conservation, as well as part of wider goals to protect marine life from ‘unsustainable’ fishing practices.
Campaigners and conservationists are welcoming the plans.
Shark fin trade ban
The new legislation was announced by the Department for Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in recent weeks. However, DEFRA told PBN it can’t yet confirm or speculate when the ban will come into force. This is because it depends on the passing of animal welfare legislation going through parliament.
It’s hoped it will protect a host of endangered species. Currently, 143 of 500 are ‘under threat’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This includes the Shortfin Mako and Blue, which have both reportedly declined in population. This is because of how they are fished.
James Glancy is a conservationist and filmmaker welcoming the bill.
In a statement, Glancy said: “The unsustainable rate at which sharks are caught by global fishing fleets, as bycatch or deliberately for their fins and meat, has caused a significant decline in worldwide shark populations.
“Sharks have been around for millions of years. And, play a crucial role for the health of our oceans. Yet, as a consequence of human activity, many shark species are critically endangered and face extinction in some regions.”
Why are sharks killed for their fins?
Whilst the ‘indescribably cruel’ practice of shark finning is banned in UK waters, the trade is ongoing around the world.
This is in order to produce traditional delicacies such as shark fin soup. The process involves slicing off the shark’s fin whilst the fish is still alive, and discarding the rest of its body.
‘Our action will not only help boost shark numbers, it will send a clear message that we do not support an industry that is forcing many species to the brink of extinction’, Animal Welfare minister, Lord Goldsmith said.
This article was updated on 8/09/21 to include an update from DEFRA