UK launches call for evidence on protecting endangered shark species

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

From May to September 2020 Shark Guardian successfully lead a

UK Government Petition campaign to ban shark fin importations into the UK.

The petition ended on the 11th September 2020 with

115,380 signatures.

We are now heading to UK Parliament!

Debate date: to be confirmed

UPDATE: Now the UK Government is investigating evidence to protect endangered shark species.

Greater protections for species of sharks will be considered through a new call for evidence to better understand the scale of the shark fin trade in the UK. This comes in as a way to help reduce the import and export of shark fins and protect the world’s sharks. We believe this has been in direct result of the recent Shark Guardian campaign and petition to ban shark fin importations into the UK.

The UK Government has stated, in response to the petition:

'The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and has been pressing for stronger international action to protect sharks against unsustainable fishing practices and shark finning, which is the practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and discarding the finless body back into the water. The government is now seeking additional evidence to ensure that appropriate protection is in place for all shark species and to inform future policy on protecting marine wildlife.'

The call for evidence will help the government better understand the scale of the shark fin trade in the UK and the conservation, economic, social and cultural impacts of potential further restrictions such as banning the import and export of detached shark fins the press lease says.

The greatest threat to sharks is overfishing, driven by demand for shark products. Wild populations of shark, skates and ray species have declined rapidly and species such as the Scalloped Hammerhead and Angelshark are now considered critically endangered.

The call for evidence which Shark Guardian intends to fully participate in, will provide insight into the role of the shark fin trade and what action can be taken to better protect sharks.

International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said: Shark finning involves slicing the fins off living sharks that are then tossed back into the sea to die painful deaths. It is an extraordinarily barbaric practice, and has been banned in the UK for nearly 20 years. But the UK still imports shark fin products and therefore may still be inadvertently contributing to the practice. At the end of the Transition Period and as a fully independent nation, we will have far more freedom to introduce measures to protect endangered species – on land and in the ocean. So we have launched this call for evidence to identify the best options to protect these incredible animals and to continue leading the way on shark conservation.
Samuel Stone, Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Marine Conservation Society said: "We welcome the government’s desire to increase protections for endangered shark species and this call for evidence to better understand the impact of the shark fin trade in the UK. Despite the abhorrent practice being banned by most fishing nations, including the UK and EU, illegal shark finning remains a significant problem in several fisheries around the world. This undermines attempts to improve the management and recovery of shark species and it’s important that the government explores all avenues available to them to help stamp out the practice. It will be important to explore how efforts can best distinguish between trade linked to illegal shark finning versus the legitimate trade of shark products from potentially well managed fisheries. Whilst the UK trade of shark fins may be relatively small on the global stage, efforts made here may have the potential to make a significant impact. We look forward to seeing the additional evidence and recommendations produced by this review."

The UK Government has added that strict trade controls are already in place for certain species of sharks under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits or requires trade to be carefully regulated. The UK also played a leading role in successfully listing an additional 18 shark species under CITES in August 2019. This again was also in response to the petition to ban shark fin imports into the UK lead by Shark Guardian and Shark Guardian Ambassador Robin Gallagher

The UK is leading in marine conservation efforts to protect the world’s ocean and has already set up a ‘Blue Belt’ of protected waters nearly twice the size of England including 41 Marine Conservation Zones.

In September 2019 the UK government also launched a Global Ocean Alliance of countries that work will together to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 (30by30).

Original Press Release

What can you do to help?

We need you now more than ever. As British citizens or UK residents you can write to your MPs asking them to support the petition to completely ban the UK import of shark fins. You have 3 Options to do this. First FIND YOUR MP and then:

  1. Write them an email using our template of facts and information. Details

  2. You can send your MP a post card! You can buy the Shark Guardian Finspire post cards or download your own to print here

  3. Send your MP a Tweet! Use the Shark Guardian automated Tweet to MPs here

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